The Courtship of Two Doctors

Fitzgerald’s book highlights letters between her parents and benefits Diocese of Shreveport’s Marriage Ministry Programs

In 1937, two medical students began a two-year correspondence across 1,100 miles, and their fancy turned to deep respect and abiding love. Alice Baker of New Orleans and Joe Holoubek of Omaha became Dr. Alice and Dr. Joe, a professional couple known for their unbreakable bond. The Courtship of Two Doctors: a 1930s Love Story of Letters, Hope & Healing chronicles their early history, providing an inspiring look at the birth of a marriage and a lifetime of service.

Alice and Joe met during a summer fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and dreamed of returning there for postgraduate training. It was the waning days of the Depression, and war was beginning to rumble overseas. Grave illness and career setbacks shook their confidence, but the two decided to face their uncertain future together, trusting in each other and the relationship they built letter by letter.

Compiled from a private collection of nearly 800 letters by daughter Martha Fitzgerald, The Courtship of Two Doctors recreates the medical era before antibiotics, when health workers were at risk of serious infection, and vividly illustrates the 1930s social barriers challenging two-career marriages. It relates the real-life romance that inspired Dr. Joe’s 2004 novel Letters to Luke, winner of the Writer’s Digest Award for inspirational literature and the Independent Publisher Award for religious fiction.

“I hope to inspire new generations of servant healers, encourage young couples to cherish one another, and generate new interest in personal family history,” said author and editor Fitzgerald.

In blog posts leading up to the release of her book, Fitzgerald said, “With Courtship, I hope to provide a new role model for young people who may be discouraged by high divorce rates and the freewheeling sexuality celebrated by popular culture. Romance is all the sweeter when it represents fidelity and draws on deep wells of faith.

“In June 1939, shortly before their wedding, my mother was taking instructions in Catholicism from a chaplain at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. A quote from one of her letters expresses the deeply held values she and my father shared: ‘I shall be so proud for you to meet Father Miget.Then he will understand why I agree so perfectly with the perception that marriage is one and indissoluble—and means infinite trust and confidence. Oh, dearest, my faith in you is truly infinite.’”
Fitzgerald has pledged proceeds from sales to causes she shares with her late parents, Drs. Alice and Joe Holoubek: the LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport and the marriage ministry program of the Diocese of Shreveport.

Books will be for sale at Barnes and Noble, and Alice and Caroline’s Catholic Book Store beginning August 15, as well as at the upcoming St. Joseph’s Soiree.

Fitzgerald, an award-winning journalist of 27 years, served as a columnist and associate editorial page editor for the Shreveport Times. She is now an independent editor, writer and publisher. She and her husband, both Louisiana natives, enjoy living on a quiet country road in a bend of the Red River.

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