Community Memorial Hospital as it looked in 1964, looking directly north from Memorial Drive.  Today the Olmsted Medical Clinic is situated in the space to the left, filling most of the yard between the nursing home and the independent living quarters, and an integral part of the entire facility.
Community Memorial Hospital as it looked in 1964, looking directly north from Memorial Drive. Today the Olmsted Medical Clinic is situated in the space to the left, filling most of the yard between the nursing home and the independent living quarters, and an integral part of the entire facility.
We continue our "history" of medicine here in Spring Valley. The "Five Canadian Doctors" were well-known in town as early as the 1880s, including doctors Charles Johnson, William Kendrick, J. Ross Johnson, Cyrus Eby and Wm. McGillivray, the latter a vet in LeRoy. A native Canadian, Dr. Will Kendrick came in 1896, and married Maud Lloyd. A remarkably knowledgeable and talented man, this beloved physician spent his lifetime "doctoring" here, specializing in eye, ear, nose and throat disorders, and continuing his education through nationwide medical societies. Republican to the core, he was much involved in community efforts such as the Commercial Club, Minn. Automobile Club, American Legion, Masons, Elks, and many more. Kendrick was an examiner of Army recruits during WW I and greatly admired for his professional ability, integrity and worth in long service to this area.

Another Canadian, Dr. J. Ross Johnson (1855-1905) who graduated from McGill University, came in 1883. Also McGill graduates, his brother, Charles H. Johnson, settled permanently in Austin but his half-brother, Will Kendrick, came here. Johnson's son, Charles, became a physician like his father, and the other son, Harry, became the town jeweler, father of our well-known postman, Harry R. Johnson. In Johnson's widespread practice, he often consulted with Dr. Plummer of Racine/Hamilton area, as well as the Mayo brothers, William and Charles, whom he greatly admired. Johnson was fond of fine horses, and kept six to eight well groomed steeds for his use. His untimely death at age 49 was a terrific shock to the community who had appreciated his exceptional skills.

With an interesting background, Dr. French Thornhill (1843-1912) served as an assistant surgeon in the Civil War under his physician father's direction. After graduating from the medical college in Ohio, he and his father came to Austin and in 1872, he moved to Spring Valley with wife, Minnie, and two sons, Fred and Frank. Dr. Thornhill practiced here for 40 years and enjoyed hobbies of farming and raising fine horses. A photo of the doctor and his horse, Old Henry, which lived to be 33 years old, is on display at the Methodist Church Museum. His son, Frank, owned the famous racehorse, Nervolo, of fame and fortune, and it lived to be 25 years old. The Thornhills once lived in a substantial brick home located about where Stender Enterprises is today.

Greatly respected, Dr. Leslie W. Clark served his patients for over 50 years. A native of Iowa, he attended college in Chicago, then the Iowa State University where he received his degree in 1900. Enduring several years of practice in South Dakota ("..on the edge of civilization"), then in Iowa for about 20 years, he took over the practice of Dr. Cyrus Eby in 1933. A warm reception attended by several hundred people was held at Our Savior's Lutheran in 1959, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of which he was a charter member. He commented that in early years, 90 percent of his practice was "on the road" with only 10 percent in the office, but now entirely reversed. Staunch Republicans and members of the Congregational Church, both he and his wife were very involved with the community including service groups, political affairs and support of youth endeavors.

During the 1900s, Spring Valley was blessed with many good doctors, dentists, osteopaths, and others in the profession of keeping us well. Dr. E. V. Simons and Dr. Eby served patients in a "hospital" on the corner of Jefferson and Washington; there was a hospital at 500 North Section; even later at the Lobdill home on Church St. There were several maternity homes and nursing homes as well, all worthy of their own stories.

Dr. Louis Katzberg had an office downtown, then at the Strong home on North Huron for his office and surgery. In 1953 Dr. E. G. Howard opened an office in the north side of the Ben Franklin store. His brother-in-law, Dr. Willard "Penicillin Pete" Peterson was in the back of the Professional Building at 101 South Broadway. When Peterson left in 1955, doctors Norbert O'Keefe and Steven Silvas had a joint practice in the same building, soon joined by doctors Robert Gustafson and Roland Matson. Dr. C. W. Zittleman maintained his office over the Home Federal businesses for many years, and Dr. Julia Handberg was a busy and honored chiropractor.

The Valley Medical Clinic was built in 1962 by doctors O'Keefe, Gustafson and Matson. Others in practice here included doctors Lee Podoll, Robert Snyder, Leah Williams and Brad Westra. In 1987 the clinic became a satellite of Olmsted Medical Group and doctors Steven Harder and Raymond Krueger joined OMG, with Robert Sookochoff at the hospital; and Matson retired in 1993. Stephanie Jacim was here briefly.

Not mentioned here are the dentists, eye doctors, chiropractors and countless other professionals who served us well. The ambulance services were adequate for the time, now replaced by the excellent crew of EMTs and a new facility. The community raised umpteen dollars and a huge effort to build a hospital in 1962 which operated for 34 years. In 1976 a 50-bed nursing home was built adjoining the hospital. When the hospital closed in 1996, the building was rehabbed into a 14-unit independent living facility. This history may be incomplete (forgive, please), but more can be learned in "Tales of Our Town", a 150 year history of Spring Valley available at the historical society museums, or if you are a faithful reader of the Tribune. Rejoice that we are carefully tended by all these folks dedicated to our well-being. Thank you!