Bob McDavid brings hospital leadership experience to mayoral race

Thursday, March 25, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:37 p.m. CDT, Friday, March 26, 2010
Bob McDavid discusses how the city should balance its budget. Watch McDavid answer 11 questions on issues of importance to the city.

COLUMBIA — He's been a marathon runner, the author of a novel, a weekend golfer and a high school basketball player. He's also a trustee, doctor, husband, father and grandfather.

Now Bob McDavid wants to add mayor of Columbia to the list.

Robert McDavid

Robert McDavid

3609 Arbor Court

PERSONAL: 63. He is married to Suzanne McDavid. They have two children, Kim Schmidt, 37, and Scott McDavid, 34; and three grandchildren.

OCCUPATION: Retired; medical doctor, specialized in obstetrics and gynecology.

EDUCATION: Attended University of Missouri-Rolla for one year and MU for two years of undergraduate education; earned his medical doctor degree at MU, graduating in 1972; specialty training in obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospital, 1972-74.

BACKGROUND: Member of the Boone Hospital Center Board of Trustees for the past 12 years and chair of the trustees since 2007. He attends Missouri United Methodist Church.

ON THE WEB: McDavid's campaign Web site is He also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Related Articles

"He just throws himself into things he's passionate about," McDavid's daughter, Kim Schmidt, said.

McDavid practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Columbia for 28 years, retiring in November 2003. He's been a member of the Boone Hospital Center Board of Trustees for the past 12 years and its chair since 2007.

As a doctor, McDavid is well accustomed to new faces approaching him during one of the most trying and exciting times of their lives: pregnancy and parenthood. It shows. He's quick to offer a handshake and a comfortable pat on the back to people during a chat.

Still, the campaign for mayor is different. As a doctor, McDavid had people coming to him. As a candidate, he's the one who has to reach out.

Man Of Hobbies

McDavid puts down roots. He’s spent the better part of his life in two places, Columbia and De Soto, a town about 40 miles south of St. Louis, where he grew up.

“(De Soto) is about 7,000 people,” McDavid said. “It's been that way forever.”

McDavid describes his former home as a railroad town. His dad was a railroad laborer and his mom a grocery store clerk.

"I grew up bagging groceries," McDavid said. "It paid 25 cents an hour."

Aside from working, McDavid stayed busy in high school as president of his student council and as a basketball player. He wasn't the team star but quickly learned how to win a spot on the court.

“I figured out pretty early if I played good defense and passed to the two stars the coach would let me play,” McDavid said.

While McDavid’s basketball career ended when he graduated high school, the benefits have lingered.

“Everyone has that group of high school friends,” McDavid said. “You kind of go through the wars together.” Four of his basketball teammates even made a surprise appearance at his first fundraiser.

McDavid's uncle fostered another of his passions, golf, while he was growing up in De Soto. The two would regularly hit the links on weekends.

"It was a real treat for him," his wife, Suzanne McDavid, said.

Her husband's passion for golf fired up again when their son, Scott, showed an interest in the sport.

But, when his knees would let him, McDavid's biggest passion was running. He started running in the early 1980s and ran five marathons, but he had to stop after three arthroscopic surgeries.

"(Running) was a form of meditation for me," McDavid said. "I miss that, but it's the way it goes."

Schmidt, McDavid's oldest, lives in Colorado with her three children. She remembers her dad running a lot when she was younger. Schmidt also said her dad used to sail but stopped because the hobby never really stuck with anyone else in the family.

Now, she said, he plays golf and skis with her kids.

"Skiing is a young man's sport, but I'm still good enough to ski with my grandkids," McDavid said.

Schmidt said her parents also make trips to Breckenridge, Colo., where they have a condo, as often as they can. McDavid said he and his wife spend most of their travel time with family.

"We get out probably every six to eight weeks to see them," McDavid said. "It's never enough, but there is about a 700-mile difference."

Even though McDavid said he enjoys traveling across the U.S., especially to visit his daughter's family in Colorado and his son in Manhattan in New York, he has a soft spot for Columbia.

"(Manhattan) is a nice place to visit for a few days, but it's always nice to see green grass and trees west of the St. Louis airport," McDavid said.

Entering retirement, McDavid started writing a novel in 2004. "Only Daughters" was published a couple years later. It's a story of financial crisis, medical drama and mystery all wrapped up in McDavid's descriptive language.

"My joke is that it's been read by dozens of people," McDavid said. "It was fun to create the characters and to create characters I believed in."

McDavid said he worked on the book a little every day.

"He decided it was something he wanted to do, and he just sat down and did it," Schmidt said.

Doctor Days

McDavid was in his first year of studying mechanical engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) when he decided to make a run at medical school. He transferred to MU and entered the MU School of Medicine after his junior year. He described it as "obviously rigorous" but also intimate; he was in a class of "100 very bright students."

"You never really knew where you stood, but in a good way," McDavid said.

McDavid came to his specialty, obstetrics and gynecology, partly through a process of elimination.

"The first operation I scrubbed in on lasted 17 hours," McDavid said. "On the spot I decided general surgery wasn't for me."

That's not to say his chosen field, which McDavid describes as a "happy specialty," didn't keep him plenty busy. McDavid estimates he delivered more than 5,000 babies.

"There are probably quite a few people walking around Columbia that I delivered," McDavid said. He said he always enjoys running into them.

McDavid met his wife while he was in medical school. Suzanne was studying to be a nurse when some mutual acquaintances introduced them. The two married during Suzanne's senior year of college and during Bob McDavid's third year of medical school.

"We basically spent every night studying in the medical library then," Suzanne McDavid said.

The McDavids' late-night study sessions at the library over time became PTA meetings. The family always had to take two cars because of McDavid's unpredictable schedule.

"If you're married to an obstetrician, they're in and out of the house a lot," Suzanne McDavid said. "If I was going to be away, we’d have a babysitter on call. It’s just the kind of lifestyle you live. You get use to it."

Trustee To Mayoral Candidate

Even though McDavid has retired from his practice at Boone Hospital Center, he can still be found at the hospital at least once a month at its board of trustees meetings.

In his campaign, McDavid has emphasized his involvement on the board. He described the board's position as an "oversight role."

Boone Hospital Center has a leasing agreement with a subsidiary of BJC HealthCare, CH Allied Services, Inc. The board of trustees is focused on "the bricks and mortar" of the hospital's operation, Hospital Attorney Tom Schneider said. This includes projects such as the construction of a new patient tower and parking garage. BJC HealthCare is responsible for managing the hospital's operations.

"BJC HealthCare's philosophy is that they are not not going to pay for bricks and mortar since they walk away at the end of the lease," Schneider said.

Schneider said BJC confers with the trustees on major issues that might come up, but the trustees are not intimately involved in administration.

"In general, the trustees do not have direct say in the budget or the day-to-day runnings of the hospital," Schneider added.

Fellow trustee Jerry Murrell described McDavid as a "quick thinker" and a "fiscal conservative."

"He is jovial and witty," Murrell said. "He can sort through a problem very quickly."

One of the issues McDavid helped sort through at Boone Hospital Center was the trustees' renegotiation of the lease with BJC HealthCare in 2006. McDavid described the lease as "fundamentally flawed" because the hospital was crowded, and the trustees lacked money to fix the problem.

In the summer of 2006, McDavid complained that too much of the hospital's money was going to BJC.

Trustees' meeting minutes show that during the September 2006 meeting, McDavid moved to terminate the hospital's lease with BJC; Fred Parry seconded. The trustees tabled the motion to get public comment. McDavid created a Web site for the public to submit comments.

Talks lasted several months and eventually resulted in a new lease that reduced the management fee paid to BJC. It also changed how leftover cash at the end of each  year is split. Now 25 percent goes to BJC, 25 percent to the trustees and 50 percent is for reinvestment in the hospital. If trustees and BJC are unable to agree on how to reinvest the 50 percent, it's set aside and becomes the trustees' money when the lease ends in 2015. The old lease split the leftover cash 50-50.

The trustees also have access to about 1 percent, or $2 million, of the hospital's net revenue if they're dissatisfied with BJC's capital spending for the hospital.

Although McDavid voted against the final agreement — he said he would have chosen to renegotiate the entire lease from scratch — he is pleased with the current arrangement.

"I knew the terms were going to pass," McDavid said. "It was a mild protest vote."

McDavid will resign from his position on the hospital board if he is elected mayor on April 6.

With large, bright blue McDavid signs all over the city and a campaign headquarters on Bernadette Drive, it would be hard to miss that McDavid is running for mayor. But he wasn't the one who came up with the idea.

McDavid said Greg Steinhoff, a former hospital  trustee and executive vice president and director of sales at Boone County National Bank, was the first person to talk to him about running for mayor.

"I was always very impressed with his leadership on the board (of trustees) and his ability to understand complex financial challenges and complex financial situations," Steinhoff said.

McDavid was initially surprised, but decided to make a go of it, Steinhoff added. More people jumped on board.

"It really wasn't any single group or team or anything like that," McDavid said.

McDavid said he was inspired to run because of his background at the hospital. "I thought my experience would be good for the city of Columbia," he added.

McDavid certainly has garnered support from the business community. He received the Columbia Chamber of Commerce's endorsement. He talked with Parry, publisher of Inside Columbia magazine and a fellow trustee, and with Don Stamper, executive director of the Central Missouri Development Council, before announcing his candidacy.

McDavid said he wouldn't categorize himself as "pro-development" but said that he is pro-job growth and that an increased tax base is among his top priorities.

"I made the decision (to run) after talking to dozens of people," McDavid said. "I felt like I needed to have a broad base of support before I was willing to do this."

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Ray Shapiro March 25, 2010 | 1:41 a.m.

Did he personally bake that $300 cherry pie?

(Report Comment)
Dale Haley March 25, 2010 | 9:27 a.m.

He didn't bake it, but he delivered it! Yuk Yuk

I thought the cherry pie went for $500. Only $300? I'm surprised the fine folks at the Chamber of Campaign, I mean, Chamber of Commerce haven't said Karl Skala used city money to buy the $?00 cherry pie.

(Report Comment)
Dale Jones March 25, 2010 | 12:38 p.m.

It appears McDavid has proven successful management experience which is presently lacking on the City Council including the City Manager. It also appears that McDavid has the backing of some very experienced, proven management and organizations. Go for it Ray and Dale. Your comments show the type of support for McDavid competition.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 26, 2010 | 12:17 p.m.

("Go for it Ray and Dale. Your comments show the type of support for McDavid competition.")
Hey, I'm a nobody.
Just an estranged voice in the dark.
But this guy ain't a nobody, considering he just had his "power lunch."
Who's he supporting?

("Nary a single one of the activist bums should be allowed a seat on the City Council.")
Power lunch participants discuss Columbia's future:

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.