Dr. Charles Crutchfield Sr. and Dr. Charles Crutchfield III are two of Saint Paul’s best known physicians. Dr. Crutchfield Sr. has delivered more than 9,000 babies in his career as an obstetrician and gynecologist. His son, Dr. Crutchfield III, is a dermatologist with a renowned practice who is the team dermatologist for the Minnesota Wild, the Timberwolves, the Vikings and the Twins. He has written a children’s book to help parents teach the importance of using sunblock and is a guest expert on TV and radio shows.
Crutchfield III is also the son of two doctors. His mother, Dr. Susan Crutchfield, is a physician and the youngest person ever to graduate from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. Crutchfield III not only continues the family professional legacy, he also carries on the family tradition of philanthropy and regularly lends his time and talents to local charities.
“I started a foundation that supports a lecture for physicians at the University of Minnesota on topics for patients of color,” he says. The annual lectureship is in the name of Dr. Charles and Susan Crutchfield. “I’m very proud of that, and it helps continually train other physicians in Minnesota to take great care of their patients,” he adds.
Taking great care of their patients is a family and professional point of pride. Crutchfield Sr. says, “If you thought enough of me to put your life in my hands, I am going to give you my very best.” Now 77 years old, he is retired, so he only practices medicine two days a week at the Open Cities Health Center in Saint Paul, which offers medical care on a sliding scale. No one is turned away because they can’t pay.
The elder Crutchfield has practiced medicine for over 50 years, but he remembers clearly the moment he decided to become a doctor. He was 7 years old, and very sick with pneumonia and strep. It made an impression on him that the black doctor, who made the house call, looked like him and became someone the young boy wanted to emulate. The doctor gave him a shot (“It burned, but my daddy told me I was a big boy and I was not to cry,” he recalls). Two days later, he was back at school and thought: “Anybody who can help people like that is doing good things … that’s what I’m going to do. And I never let anybody change my mind.”
Crutchfield III says that when he was a small child, he was often asked if he was going to be a doctor when he grew up, and he knew that the acceptable answer was always yes. “But I actually fell in love with science and medicine when I was in college as an undergraduate at Carleton College. I applied to graduate school in molecular biology and genomics at the Mayo Clinic and pursued a doctorate there,” he says, adding that he also decided to pursue an M.D. at the Mayo Clinic.
Like his father, Crutchfield III anticipates many years of medical practice. “I think my father, mother and I have the same philosophy. When you do something you love, it is not work at all,” he says. “I love the ability to use a particular set of skills I possess to help other people when they have medical concerns. Once again, I don’t call it work. I call it something I’m very fortunate to do and anticipate doing for a very long time.”