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Napa podiatrist William Todd passes the baton

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Drs. Todd and Shanks

Dr. William Todd, left, has retired from his Napa practice and has sold it to Dr. Sky Shanks. The two are doctors of podiatric medicine.

After 37 years of podiatry in Napa Valley, Dr. William Todd, owner of Napa Valley Podiatry Group, has retired from his Napa Valley practice, selling his business to a successor he picked.

“I had a good spell (and) I enjoyed my practice and patients up here but it’s time to cut back,” said Todd, who also owns a podiatry practice in San Francisco with his wife.

The physician that will take over Todd’s Napa practice is Sky Shanks, M.D.

Todd, 62, said he became impressed with the young doctor’s expertise, surgical skill and rapport with patients when the two physicians worked together at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco.

“I’m turning it over to a very fine doctor,” Todd said of his Napa office. “I think she will take the baton and really run with it.”

The practice Todd is passing along to Shanks had its beginning in 1977, when Todd was a physician recently graduated in podiatry. Family and friends had urged him to open a practice in Calistoga to put his learning to practice.

His wife, of Russian heritage, is also a podiatrist, and when their friends in the area heard of the couple, “they felt that a podiatrist should be in Calistoga,” Todd said.

“My first patients were all Russian,” said Todd. His wife’s mother had been promoting them to what was then a small but active Russian community. He recalled with laughter how he knew a bit of Russian but “only enough to get me in trouble.”

Thanks to a dentist, LeRoy Bowser, DDS, Todd was able to obtain the use of an office during the dentist’s off days. When his practice was still nascent, during May of 1977, he worked for about two days a month, which then grew to four days a month, and finally, when he moved to St. Helena later that year, it turned to two days a week.

His St. Helena office would be where he’d spend a robust 24 years, along with working at the St. Helena Hospital and Queen of the Valley Medical Center. From there he would settle to his current office at Trancas Street, where he was based for 12 years.

Shanks, who will officially assume Todd’s practice this July, was born in San Francisco, where she grew up as a sports lover.

“I played basketball back in high school,” Shanks said, “and I’ve kind of had my fair share of foot and ankle injuries, and so I always knew I wanted to do something in the realm of sports medicine or health care.”

Shanks went to Pitzer College in Claremont, where she was introduced to the possibility of a career in podiatry. “The then-president of the California Podiatric Medical Association actually came to my school and was giving a presentation to all the premed students and basically just promoting the profession. I actually visited him a few times in his office and his patients seemed to love him and he had a great lifestyle — a combination of intellectual challenge and control over your own life, as far as scheduling and things like that, and being able to do surgery, sports medicine, wound care, palliative care. It just seemed like a big variety even within the field of podiatry, so you never get bored, there’s always a new challenge,” Shanks said.

Eventually she attended the California School of Podiatric Medicine where she became involved in student government and received academic honors.

“I’m anxious but I’m excited,” Shanks said about becoming the head of her own practice. “I’ve literally worked my entire life to get to this point. I think right now I’m just looking forward to serving the greater Napa community.”

For his part, Todd said he feels he’s leaving his practice in the best possible hands. Though he will still be working at his San Francisco office, he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, grandchildren and his passions such as the piano and traveling.

“I will not forget the patients here in the Napa Valley and I wish them the best possible health,” he said. “I’ve been very happy here, very happy. I think I have a good successor too, to carry on and expand it. She’ll take this even broader than I could and I’m happy about that. I have kind of a vicarious thrill (about Dr. Shanks). I feel like saying go, go, go!”

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