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Inabnit was still visiting his patients at nursing homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, suited up head-to-toe in protective gear.
“He said, ‘You should see me. I look like I have on a space suit,’” his daughter, Mindy Higginson, recalled, though she still worried.
Inabnit began to feel tired the weekend after Thanksgiving. That Monday, Nov. 30, he started having trouble breathing and tested positive for the coronavirus. He was hospitalized within a couple of days and died just over a week later.
Family members said they lost a loving husband, devoted father and doting grandfather who delighted in showering children with gifts.
But the community also lost an old-school family doctor who built a small-town practice from the ground up in New Carlisle, achieving an almost mythic status among locals.
“He had a way of making you feel like you were the most important patient there ever was,” said Bart Curtis, the former head football coach at New Prairie High School. “He treated every person like it was the queen of England or the president of the United States.”
Born in central Indiana, Inabnit initially worked in home construction and pharmaceutical sales. At age 32, with two young children, he decided to go to medical school.
He brought his family to South Bend in the early 1980s and became the first osteopathic resident at Memorial Hospital. When it came time to decide where to practice medicine, he settled on New Carlisle and stayed there for almost three decades.
Inabnit was a jack-of-all-trades “country doctor,” Higginson said.
He stitched up wounds. He set broken bones. He delivered babies. He made house calls.
“He just became the legend of New Carlisle,” Higginson said. “Everybody knew my dad.”
Soon after opening his office in New Carlisle, Inabnit began throwing an annual summer picnic that started as a modest cookout but grew to a bash that drew hundreds and featured live music, catered chicken and door prizes from area businesses.