Columbus, OH,
14:25 PM

Secret Lives: A mobile photographer, a coroner and a museum founder

Vice president doubles as county coroner

It would be easy to assume David Applegate II, MD, has enough to do as vice president of medical affairs for OhioHealth Physician Group. But not only does Dr. Applegate help oversee more than 600 physicians and hundreds of other care providers, he also serves as coroner for Union County.

Dr. Applegate got his start in 1995 as a deputy coroner. In 2000, voters elected Dr. Applegate as county coroner. He’s now in his fourth term and says he enjoys serving the community.

“I’m working with other people who also are driven to help improve our community. That’s been very meaningful to me,” says Dr. Applegate. The coroner investigates all deaths that are not natural or that occur in suspicious or unusual circumstances. It might be a car accident, an unexpected Emergency Department death, a suicide or a murder. When a case comes in, Dr. Applegate or one of his investigators goes to the scene. They may request an autopsy and collect evidence, analyze medical records and interview people involved.

Dr. Applegate’s cases have included teen suicides, a drowned newborn, a man who murdered his bedridden wife and a hoarder who killed herself and left behind $600,000 in cash.

Sometimes, the coroner identifies a trend, such as a rash of drug overdoses or accidents at an intersection. That information can help authorities prevent future deaths, he says. “How we can learn from someone’s death is also part of the job,” says Dr. Applegate.‚Äč

A photographer for the mobile age

To practice her “secret” hobby, all Eliza Villasenor has to do is pull out her phone.

When she’s not busy working as an executive assistant at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, Eliza likes to experiment with mobile photography, snapping artistic photos and editing them using nothing but a mobile phone.

“It’s interesting to use only your mobile phone,” Eliza says. “It limits certain things you can do, but that’s what makes it great.”

Eliza got involved with mobile photography about five years ago after a friend asked her to follow him on the photo-sharing app, Instagram. At first, Eliza used the app to take regular photos of everyday life: her friends, outings, cute animals, food. But, after getting involved with a growing community of mobile photographers, Eliza began to get more creative.

Today, Eliza likes to experiment with unusual shots highlighting different aspects of the Columbus area and its people. She frequently attends “Instameets,” where she gets together with other mobile photographers to take photos.

Eliza particularly enjoys taking portraits of friends against interesting backgrounds, such as buildings and outdoor scenery. Her all-time favorite place to take photos is the Columbus Museum of Art.

In the past year, Eliza’s photos have even been displayed at the Columbus Museum of Art during its annual “Wonderball” gala. Check out Eliza's photos by following @e.darling on Instagram.


Making a museum from scratch

Eleven years ago, when Christie Truly and a friend noticed that Athens needed more activities for children, they didn’t sit back and complain about it. Instead, with a group of other parents, they launched a children’s museum.

“At first, it was just meeting and having this dream … this vision of what we wanted,” says Christie, volunteer coordinator at OhioHealth Home Care in Athens. “We had no space, we had no staff. We were a museum without walls.”

Fast forward to today and that vision has become the thriving Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery. The museum provides hands-on activities and rotating exhibits on science, the arts and humanities.

The museum is located inside the Market on State Street Mall in Athens. Thanks to its growing success, the board is working to move the museum to a bigger space on Columbus Road in 2017.

Exhibits have explored themes around weather, medieval times, eye health, detective work, engineering, puppetry, green energy and the science of music. There are also permanent features, including an “imagination playground” made of foam blocks and regular “messy art” and “messy science” programs that allow kids to experiment with art and science concepts.

“What we’ve done on such a shoestring is really, really fabulous,” says Christie, who currently serves as vice president on the museum’s board. “When you see how excited kids are about something we put together or get a letter from a teacher about experiments they’re doing because they saw something at the museum, we know we are really touching lives.”

Secret Lives is an ongoing series that shares the unusual past careers and unique hobbies of OhioHealth associates, physicians, and volunteers.