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Raymond Clare Coleman 1889-1933


Posted By: Merllene Andre Bendixen (email)
Date: 2/28/2011 at 23:30:16

Dr. R. C. Coleman Takes Own Life
Financial Loss Believed to Be Cause of Act
One of Most Skilled Surgeons in State – Death is Great Shock
Despondency because of financial reverses is believed to have led to the suicide on Saturday morning of Dr. Ray C. Coleman, owner of the Coleman hospital and one of the foremost surgeons of the middle west. Dr. Coleman was found in the basement of his home just south of the hospital at about nine o’clock dead. The soft lead bullet of a .38 caliber Colt revolver fired into the right temple had passed entirely through his brain and flattened out as it hit the concrete block wall on the opposite side of the basement. Mrs. Coleman is in the hospital with a new baby daughter and the doctor had sent the maid Miss Mary Ryzak to the hospital with a verbal message for her and had bade her to bring Mrs. Emmet Freer head nurse of the hospital back with her. The two young women found his lifeless body. They called Dr. J. P. Clark resident physician, who in turn called relatives and officers.

The rash act had been carefully planned as far ahead at least as the previous evening for he had secured envelopes from the nurse in charge of the office at the hospital and farewell notes were enclosed in these, one to the coroner, one to his sister, Mrs. Sever T. Egertson, one to his wife, one to his children and one to Jay Johnston, druggist. The revolver had been borrowed about a month ago from Atty. Wm. S. Johnston. Dr. Coleman had also taken the gun last summer when carrying a large sum of money with him. The note to the coroner gave the reason for the deed as he wished to have it known and was a sort of farewell to the community.

It read:

“To Coroner or whom it may concern: -
“I have after deliberation taken my life which I do not want to do but it is the only way I can pay my creditors who are my friends and also keep from losing my life earning. I do not want my wife and children to have to start without anything again.

“I trust that my friends will understand that I am doing this rather than see my wife and children suffer.

“I have enjoyed every day in Estherville and I hope some arrangement can be made so the community can eventually handle the hospital as it was always my intention to have it that way.

Yours truly, Dr. Coleman”

A contributory cause perhaps to Dr. Coleman’s unhappy state of mind was the very serious condition of both his hands, the hands of a must skillful surgeon upon which his life work was based. Severe x-ray burns had eaten deeply into two of his fingers, one on each hand, and these burns often mean amputation of the digits or even of the hands themselves.

Dr. Coleman leaves his aged parents, one sister, his widow and four daughters.

Graduates Young
Raymond C. Coleman was born in Livermore, Nov. 12, 1889 and came to this county as a child in 1899 with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. I. Coleman. He graduated from Iowa City in 1912 and showed great brilliance in surgery even at that youthful age. He went to Europe for a two years study at Vienna, Austria, and upon his return to America, came to Estherville and became a partner of Dr. A. Anderson. He was married here to Miss Josephine Smith of Minneapolis, Minn., a niece of the late Mrs. C. J. Wilson from whom he was later divorced. They have one daughter, Barbara, now living with her mother, Mrs. Clark in Chicago. In 1917, Dr. Coleman went to Iowa City and was associated there with Dr. Dean, head of the medical college at the state university. He again returned to Estherville and built the large modern three-story hospital building that bears his name and here built up a practice that a much older man could envy.

Dr. Coleman was married in 1928 to Miss Beulah Davis. Three daughters have been born to them, Carol Ray, 4, Jerry Anne 2, and the two weeks old infant, Grace.

Seldom is a community shocked by any occurrence as was Estherville when the fact became known that Dr. Coleman had passed away and later when it was learned that death came by his own hand. The heavy strain under which the doctor had been laboring was known to many. The profession of a doctor is trying and arduous and this combined with the stress of financial reverses due to the times were more than even the natural optimism and good sense of Dr. Coleman could withstand. The blow of his untimely passing is especially great for his aged parents to whom he was naturally most dear. They felt a great an justifiable pride in their only son’s advancement in the medical profession Mr. and Mrs. Coleman had but recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on New Year’s day, having their son and daughter and their grandchildren home with them for a quiet home dinner.

Scores of people in this section of the state and of southern Minnesota owe their health and even their lives to the skilled hands and professional knowledge of Dr. Coleman. It will be hard to find in the community but it is to be hoped that the hospital may continue as a community asset as he wished and that those who take it over may see fit to retain his name for the institution in which he had such pride and for which he devoted his labors.

Funeral services were held this afternoon at two o’clock from the home and at two-thirty from the Presbyterian church. The services were conducted by Rev. R. T. Chipperfield of Sac City, assisted by Dr. A. T. Bailey of this city. Burial was made in Oak Hill cemetery.

The services were held at 2:30 p.m. in the Presbyterian church and burial was made in Oak Hill cemetery. A mixed quartette composed of Mrs. N. H. McKerral, Mrs. Sarah Bennett, Dr. T. C. Mann and Fred Albertson san two numbers, ”Lead Kindly Light,” and “Abide With Me.” Mrs. Bennett sang “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.”

Pall bearers were Attorney Francis Kennedy, Dennis Bagan, Attorney William S. Johnston, Lloyd Stockdale, Jerry Wegs and Charles Spies of Graettinger.

County and city offices and business houses were closed during the services.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Davis of Carthage, Ill., Mrs. Coleman’s parents, and her sister, Miss Bessie Davis, another sister and husband, Mr. and Mrs. William England and two daughters of Galesburg, Ill. and Dr. and Mrs. M. W. Moulton of Bellevue, and Mrs. L. E. Linder of Plaza, N.D., were among those from out of town attending the funeral. (Vindicator and Republican, Estherville, IA, January 10, 1933)

Dr. R. C. Coleman Noted Surgeon Laid to Rest on Tuesday
The funeral services for Dr. Ray C. Coleman, for years one of Estherville’s and northwestern Iowa’s most prominent physicians and surgeons, were held on Tuesday afternoon at the Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Arthur Bailey and the Rev. R. T. Chipperfield, of Sac City, officiating.

The community received a terrible shock on Saturday morning when, like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky, came the announcement of the sudden death of Dr. Coleman. It was first announced he had had a violent heart attack and had dropped dead at his home. In a few minutes came the announcement that he had shot himself in the basement of his home.

Dr. Coleman, sometime ago persuaded the writer to undertake to establish an open hospital of the then Coleman hospital. Through that we became exceedingly well acquainted with Dr. Coleman as a man, a physician and in many respects his financial conditions and his intentions for the future.

According to letters written the family, he gave as his reason for taking his life, his financial difficulty. He also wrote that he hoped the hospital would become a community hospital. We know these statements to be true as we know his obligations worried him greatly and we know his desire was to make the Coleman hospital a community hospital of some character. It was through the advice of the writer that the name, the Coleman hospital, was changed to the Coleman City hospital, and further that it was at that time thrown open to the doctors.

We also know that the condition of his hands and the possibility of loosing them or the use of them, played a great part in the mental strain he underwent at this time. There was also other conditions that arose in the past few weeks that also assisted in making his condition more serious.

There were but few who knew that Dr. Coleman in caring for a youth sometime ago, had, by staying at his work, burned his hand with X-Ray to such an extent that in all probability, later the fingers and possibly the hands would have to be amputated. The hands were so badly burned that the nails came off and refused to grow. The skin came off and always kept sluffing off and that finger became benumbed at times.

Dr. Coleman, it seems, asked for a pen from one of the nurses at the hospital Friday night. The following morning he asked the attendant at his home, Miss Rezack, to go to the hospital and tell Mrs. Freer to come over to the home, which is just south of the hospital. Miss Rezack came back at once and in a few minutes Mrs. Freer came over. They searched Mr. Coleman’s rooms and not finding him searched the house. The doctor was found in the basement of the home with a revolver wound in his right temple. The revolver and notes addressed to his wife, his sister, Jay Johnston, the coroner and his children, were by his side. The revolver proved to be the property of Wm. S. Johnston, former county attorney.

Dr. Clark, in charge of the hospital, was called and pronounced the doctor dead. The coroner, after receiving the letter, said no inquest was necessary.

Dr. Coleman was a graduate of the State University and was considered one of the most able surgeons in the northwest. From the University he went to Vienna, and then to Gratz, Austria, by appointment from the University. He came to Estherville to practice and officed in the Gardston Hotel property. He purchased the Anderson hospital and later erected the Coleman hospital at a cost of $120,000. This hospital he has operate since its erection and his service to this community and to this entire section of the state and southern Minnesota has been great.

Dr. Coleman was born in Livermore, Iowa, on November 13, 1889. He came to Emmet County with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ike Coleman, and resided on a farm near Dolliver.

He is survived by his father and mother, his wife and four children, and a sister, Mrs. Severt Egertson, all of this city.

In the loss of Dr. Coleman, Estherville has lost one of the outstanding physicians. However, he has left a wonderful monument to the city in the Coleman City Hospital.

The Presbyterian Church was packed to capacity and many were standing out of doors at the funeral services. The floral offerings were very profuse. Physicians, including classmates from all parts of the state, were in attendance at the funeral services. (Estherville Enterprise, Estherville, IA, January 11, 1933)


Emmet Obituaries maintained by Lynn Diemer-Mathews.
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