This script was originally written for the 2018 Crandon Drama Club Walk & Talk. Historical research was conducted by members of the Crandon Area Historical Society and student researchers Nolan Wilson, Tucker Krause
Good evening. How’s everyone feeling today? My name is Dr. Burton Rathert and I’m assuming you’re here because you’re not feeling your best. I’ll just need you to jump up here on this kitchen table and we’ll take a look.
Oh, you’re not here for a check-up? Well, in that case let’s just relax and I’ll tell you a little bit about my time here in Crandon.
I started my practice in Crandon right after WW2. My father’s second wife, Dora VanDoren, had family living in Crandon while I attended medical school in the early 1920’s. I graduated in 1926 from UW-Madison and married my first wife Phyllis in Minneapolis in 1928. Sadly that marriage was a short one and I found myself practicing medicine in Kansas in 1930’s and married my wife Susan in Kansas in 1938. During world war II my family and I transferred to Seattle, Washington where I worked for the Boeing company.
While we were in Seattle, my wife and decided to return to Wisconsin to raise our family. I was fortunate to be offered a position with Dr. G.W. Ison. Dr Ison himself built this building after he moved here in 1915. His dear sister Mrs. Kendall had been very ill the summer before and was being treated by Dr. Decker and Dr. Diamond but wanted her brother to consult on the case as well. Doc Ison was impressed by the potential he saw in Crandon and moved his family here the following year.
Doc Ison passed away only a few years after I joined his practice. In 1952 to be exact. I continued to see patients in the upstairs clinic while the new Dr., Dr. Moffet opened his office above the Rexall drug store.
The 1950’s were a busy time for a Dr. in Crandon. Lots of babies being born, families needing doctoring and new public health laws being put in place. Both Dr. Moffett and myself kept busy and no one seemed to complain that our offices were located up long flights of stairs. Not even the pregnant ladies or my elderly patients. But I myself was not getting any younger. In 1960 Rudy Augustine added offices in the back onto the original G.W. Ison building which allowed me to see patients on the first floor.
I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the residents of Crandon. In 1972, the community of Crandon got together and created “Dr Rathert Day” Oh, that was a fun day. There were Dr. Rathert day bumper stickers and “I’m a Dr. Rathert baby” buttons for sale at Harry’s Red Owl store. A photo display was put together that featured many pictures of babies that I delivered. My good friend Ken Conway also arranged to have a recliner chair delivered to my home during the event and I recall sitting in it the first time was a treat.
However, the best gift were the words from the Mole Lake tribe. Charles McGeshick while presenting me with a ceremonial headdress said “I am here to speak for the people of the Mole Lake reservation. We came here as one, to give our thanks, to a man who has devoted his life to helping people in sickness and health. To him it has made no difference what color you were, or where you came from. He was always there, even when you couldn’t make it to his office, he’d somehow always made it to your home, sometime staying overnight, sleeping at the foot of your bed, reassuring you you’d make it through the night, but he never complained.”
I was so honored to accept the honoree headdress of the Chief of the Mole Lake Sokoagon Chippewa Tribe. Mrs. Dora Ackley, the wife of the late Chief Willard Ackley, also honored me with an Indian name Mushke – Ke – We – Neh – Nene, which means “man of medicine”.
This honor meant so much to not only me but to my whole family. I was very proud, still am proud, to be one of Crandon’s hometown Doctors. Downtown businesses like Luigi’s, down the block, have come and gone over the years, but one thing remains true. The people of Crandon care about each other and that’s what matters most. Good luck with you tour. Tell Luigi I said hello.