Homer DeSadeleer was born in Ninove, Belgium in 1912. His family arrived at Ellis Island from war torn Europe in search of a better life in 1922. Joseph and Pauline chose Seal Beach, having Belgian friends and family already living in the area. His father, Joseph, was employed by the Hellman Ranch as a supervisor of the sugar beet production. He also owned a farm house with several acres where the Navy Base is now located.
Homer did not speak a word of English while enrolled in Seal Beach Elementary School, until a young lady named Annabelle Krenwinkle took him under her wing and helped him learn English. They had a lifelong friendship from then on. He attended Huntington Beach High School and graduated in three years.
After graduation, he was determined to become a linguist, speaking seven languages fluently but changed his mind while at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and decided to study medicine.
Upon receiving his medical degree from The college of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. DeSadeleer began practicing medicine in 1939 at 119 Main St. in Seal Beach. Prior to that, the building was operating as a gambling parlor. Lillian Herman was his nurse and the first year was slow and according to her they spent more time playing cards than seeing patients. Fortunately business picked up, and he continued to practice medicine at that location for over 25 years.
Dr. DeSadeleer did not believe in appointments. One of his first patients was Philip Stanton, the Founding Father of Seal Beach. He had a bench in front of his office and patients started lining up at about 8 AM each morning on a first come, first serve basis. It is estimated that he delivered between 5,000 to 6,000 babies this being his favorite part of being a doctor. There are still generations of the doctor’s “babies” living in Seal Beach today. He also made house calls to patients too old or too ill to come to his office. He never charged more than the patient could afford, even if it meant he was paid in baked goods, eggs, services or just a big hug and thank you.
In 1940, he married Edith Little at St. Anne’s Catholic Church where he was an active member for the rest of his life. The reception was held at the Glide’er Inn which was his favorite restaurant. They built their home on the corner of 6th and Ocean Ave. They had three children, Pauline, Norman and Mary.
Homer was famous for his beautiful garden, most admired for his gorgeous roses and dahlias. It was not unusual to see the good Doctor driving around town with the back seat of his car overflowing with fresh flowers, for when he went on house calls he always picked some to cheer his sick patients. He loved being a doctor and helping people. He never charged anyone that could not pay, he didn’t practice medicine for the money, he did it for love.
Dr. DeSadeleer acted as a local air raid warden during WWII and for many years assisted the Seal Beach Police Department with their arrests for the inebriated, by performing sobriety tests for those brought into the living room of his Ocean Ave. home. If you couldn’t say Methodist, Episcopal or anesthetist you were going to the pokey. During the summer, the Seal Beach lifeguards brought in the patients of stingray wounds.
He was a charter member of the Seal Beach Lions Club. Among his duties, he was a tail twister, a “Sergeant-At-Arms”, who levied fines on his fellow members that violated the rules, making extra money for the Lions Club at every meeting. After his death, the Seal Beach Lions awarded him the Melvin Jones fellowship making him a member of a highly select fraternity of about 10,000 nationally at the time. Being a 50 year member, they also honored him with a lifetime membership for this service.
Dr. DeSadeleer left a huge legacy of love and kindness to his fellow man and adopted country, both as a physician and as a member of the Seal Beach community. He is still remembered by his family, friends and church as the kind of country doctor that we wish we still had.