William B. McVeigh M.D.
It has been said that anyone who ever had a child in Breezy spent time in Dr. McVeigh’s Rockaway Point examination room. Dr. William McVeigh was our hometown doctor, and a visit to his office, whether for a splinter or to treat a more serious ailment, was almost inevitable. He was among the last of past generations of 24/7 physicians. In honoring Dr. William B. McVeigh, we acknowledge his singular professional contributions to the stability of our community during the uncertain mid-century era, the betterment of the community during his long tenure, but, equally, his personal qualities.
After medical school, the now-licensed Dr. McVeigh did his residency in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, where he was named the Chief Medical Resident in his final year. St. Vincent’s was Dr. McVeigh’s medical home for the rest of his career. And is where he met his wife, Yvonne McCahill, a nurse who became his partner in marriage in 1955.
1955 was a pivotal year in Dr. McVeigh’s life, for that was when he entered our history. For three more decades, our community completed the tripod on which Dr. McVeigh’s life rested: family, St. Vincent’s, and Breezy Point. From that small office adjoining what eventually became his family’s summer home, Dr. McVeigh tweezed out splinters, salved burns, wrapped sprains, treated the numerous and almost inescapable travails of childhood, viral and otherwise, and treated just about anything else that came along during the summer months. In an era when doctors still made house calls, Dr. McVeigh regularly examined the immobilized sick, especially children, at home and, if need be, even on the beach, courtesy of a ride offered by Coop Security.
His office hours, in a formal sense, were from 1 PM to 3 PM and from 5 PM to 7 PM, but closing times invariably were flexible to accommodate late arrivals so that patients regularly were attended to until evening turned to night, and then even later if the need arose. If an ambulance was needed for a patient, Dr. McVeigh waited, provided instructions to the EMTs, and remained available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for emergency service. All during this time, Dr. McVeigh also had his duties at St. Vincent’s.
To think of Dr. McVeigh as a seasonal physician was also somewhat inaccurate, for as the family moved back to their Teaneck, New Jersey home after Labor Day, he often remained behind in the unheated building when he was needed by the growing winter population. That was Dr. McVeigh, the diligent medical professional. However, that person was paired with another William McVeigh, a person who loved literature and writing, boating and singing in an Irish tenor, an amiable man whom Dr. William B. McVeigh’s life in Breezy Point manifested the very definition of service, both professionally and personally. Without his dedication to our community, many residents’ lives might have been more difficult, but more assuredly we would have been deprived of the comfortable assumption that attentive medical help was only a few steps and a few minutes away should the need arise. Tonight, by enshrining Dr. William B. McVeigh in the Breezy Point Historical Society Hall of Fame, we remember a person who, without a doubt, made a difference for the betterment of the community during his many decades of service.