After a President leaves office, does his physician say “Goodbye Sir!” Army Colonel John Hutton was the third and last of President Ronald Reagan’s (1981-89) three personal physicians. On December 12, the White House announced that the president had selected Hutton, who had served as assistant Presidential physician for two years, to succeed Dr. T. Burton Smith as his doctor. The predecessor had bungled Reagan’s two exposures to the Twenty Fifth Amendment. More importantly, Nancy Reagan did not like him.
Hutton was a distinguished vascular surgeon and previously served as Chief of Surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was the Presidential Physician until the Reagans left the White House in January, 1989. During this period he was the White House spokesman who capably instructed the press about all Ronald and Nancy’s medical matters. He became close to the First Lady as he guided her through her bout with cancer of the breast in 1987. In January 1989 Hutton was appointed Commanding General at Madigan Army Medical Center, Washington state.
But it was not farewell to the Reagans. Although he discontinued his treatments as a doctor, he was a friend. He accompanied the ex-president and first lady when they traveled to the Mayo Clinic for heir annual physical examinations. Hutton was in the audience in Washington DC to celebrate the Gipper’s 83 birthday (February 3, 1994) where Reagan “came to the microphone and looking dazed, began to speak haltingly, a little out of sync. He did not seem to be able to find his words.” His confusion was clear. At the Reagans’ hotel room that night, the ex-president said, “I do not know where I am.” Nancy confided to the doctor. “John, this has been happening even in his own home.”
Afterwards, Hutton visited the Reagans a number of times, often for a week or so to give Nancy some relief. Moreover, a couple of times a week, the doctor took Ronnie to a driving rang where he hit golf balls. Hutton frequently called Mrs. Regan to check in, even after the president’s death in 2004. John Hutton was an honorary pall bearer at Reagan’ state funeral. Friendship after the White House.