The Doctors Davis and the Davis clinic
In a 1902 Pioneer Journal article, it was reported that Dr. Alvin Davis, formerly of Grey Eagle, stopped in Wadena with a thought of engaging in practice here. However, it didn't work out and he located at Akeley, Minn. instead.
It must have been a good omen, however, because this is where three of his five sons ended up as Wadena physicians.
The oldest of the three brothers, Luther Alvin Davis, graduated from the University of Minnesota medical school in 1901 and began the practice of medicine at Dalton, Minn. In 1902, he married Cora Maie Staples, always known as Maie C. and to this union were born three children, two surviving. They were Myrabelle, who married Raymond Zosel, and Luther Forrest Davis.
In 1915, he came to Wadena and purchased the Coulter Hospital from Dr. Charles Coulter at 319 Bryant Ave. SW and renamed it the Davis Hospital.
During the flu epidemic of 1918 it is reported that Luther worked so untiringly tending to sick people, he went so far as to help them with their farm work. He died in 1920 of other causes but it was always felt that his labors during the epidemic contributed heavily to his death. His wife, Maie C., ran the hospital after his death until the new Wesley Hospital opened in 1925 when she donated all of the usable equipment to the new hospital .
Thomas Lloyd, or Dr. Tom as he was commonly known, came to Wadena in 1916 to join his brother in practice. In 1917, he went into military service as a surgeon, spending nine months in France. In 1918 during his military service, he married Phyllis M. Dower. On his return in 1919, he rejoined his brother. They occupied offices in the Phoenix block at 201½ South Jefferson, the home of KWAD in 2011.
Dr. Tom and Phyllis had five children, four of whom lived to maturity: two girls, Denise who married Al Ferron, and Judy who married Bill Oehler; Two sons, Tom Jr. who became an ophthalmologist, and Bill who became an urologist and practiced in Hawaii.
Thayer Clinton or Dr. Thayer came to Wadena in 1922 from Glenwood, Minn., where he had been in practice. He joined his brother Tom, forming the Davis & Davis clinic. In 1915, he married Lulu Krueger and they were the parents of two sons, Thayer Jr. who became a physician but didn't practice in Wadena, and Robert who became a banker at Redwood Falls, Minn. Thayer died of a heart ailment in 1949, having practiced medicine here up to that time.
In 1938, Luther Forest Davis, born in 1913 at Dalton, son of the brother Luther Alvin, returned to Wadena and joined his uncles in practice, specializing in obstetrics and family practice. He married Miriam Stokes at Cohasset, Minn. They had seven children, four girls and three boys: Dianne, Nancy, Miriam and Deborah; and Luther Jr. and Kim and Jim the twins.
Dr. Luther went into the Army Medical Corps in 1942. He was discharged in 1946 as a major, returning to Wadena to rejoin his uncles in the Davis Clinic.
The fourth Davis in the firm was Thomas Jr., who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1945 and after serving an internship he returned to Wadena in 1946 and joined his father, his Uncle Thayer and cousin Luther F. in the Davis Clinic. In 1947, he went to Chicago and enrolled in an eye, ear, nose and throat clinic, taking a one-year course. On his return in 1948 he married Geraldine Meckel and they were the parents of four children, Bonnie, Thomas III, Richard and Jeremy. In 1949, he went to Patna, India to gain knowledge in eye surgery and cataract removal. This was cut short by an outbreak of cholera.
In 1952, tragedy struck the family. Tom Jr., on his return from a medical fraternity meeting in Minneapolis, was involved in a one-car accident which took his life.
The Davis Clinic, which had been after 33 years at 201½ South Jefferson, in 1955 moved to a new clinic they built at 22 Dayton Ave. SE, across the street from the Methodist Church, which in 2011 is one of the offices of the Wadena County Welfare department. This was done primarily to get away from a second floor location which they had endured from the beginning.
In 1958, young physician Leland Reichelt came to Wadena to work with the Davises. In 1959, Dr. Duane Ness also came to work for the Davises. By this time Dr. Tom had semi retired and in 1962 a new group was formed with Luther Davis, Leland Reichelt and Duane Ness as participants and Dr. Tom as an associate.
In 1973, Dr. Luther retired from the clinic accepting a position with the Veteran's Administration, leaving Drs. Reichelt and Ness.
In 1974, Tri-County Hospital decided to build a clinic facility adjoining the new hospital which had been built in 1972, and with this the Davis Clinic moved to 4 Deerwood Ave. NW, the site of present day Wadena Medical Center.
Later in 1974, Dr. Timothy Schmitt joined the group which had changed their name to Davis Clinic LTD. The next year Dr. Kenneth Muckala joined the group and in 1976 the name was changed to the Wadena Medical Center as it remains today.
The development and personnel of the Wadena Medical Center is another story to be told later.
Maie C. Davis, Dr. Luther Sr.'s wife after closing the Davis Hospital ran a gift and dress shop, Maie C's Gift Garden, in Wadena for quite a number of years. I remember having lunch with her at the Herbst Department store in Fargo in about 1950 where she worked as a fortune teller, a reader of tea leaves. She was a very flamboyant lady who loved bright colored clothes and beautiful jewelry -- a wonderful lady.
Phyllis Dower Davis was very active in Wadena affairs. During World War II, she served as the local procurement officer for the American Red Cross, arranging projects such as clothing drives, sewing projects and bandage making for the troops. Later she served for many years on the Wadena school board and was board chairman for many years.
She and Dr. Tom were our neighbors for almost 30 years and it was a blessing to have them.
Dr. Tom had always wanted a Mercedes automobile, so in semi retirement he bought one. One evening when parked out in front of the house on Second Street SW, someone ran into it and smashed it up. Then he bought another one and on a trip out west he had an accident out in Idaho and smashed that one up. Then they bought a blue Buick which survived for a long time.
I shall always remember when our oldest daughter was diagnosed with polio at Wesley Hospital. Dr. Tom evidently called to Phyllis telling her that we would be taking Mary to Sister Kenny in Minneapolis. When we got back from the Hospital Phyllis was there and made a bed in the back seat of our car, had a map of Minneapolis for us and inquired if I needed any money. They were wonderful people and very good to us.
The Davis family left a wonderful medical legacy for Wadena.