Peeking Into Lake City's Past

McCrary Clan is Practicing Today

Because I love this beautiful country of ours, I never cease to appreciate the greatness of our ancestors who willingly paid a high price in blood, sweat and tears to make our county what it is today.

Having lived in Lake City for over 46 adult years, I have enjoyed the privilege of knowing some of the second and third generation of pioneer families whom the Lake City Historical Society wishes to honor by this and other articles published in The Graphic. The McCrary's are one such family whose beginning was in old Scotland and who came to America before the Revolutionary War. Like many traditional American families, they fought in wars to create and preserve an idealistic democracy, where government by the people, of the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

The first McCrarys who migrated to Lake City were two brothers named Andrew and George. They brought their families to Calhoun County following their release from the Union Army after the Civil War. George, the great-grandfather of Dr. Ashton McCrary, is the subject whose lineage we will cover in today's installment.

Perhaps we might refer to the descendants of pioneer George McCrary as the medical McCrarys. Why? Because George had two sons, one grandson, two great-grandsons and perhaps a great-great-grandson who have been, are now, or will be medical doctors.

Last week we described certain events in the life of George's son Delbert Warren McCrary, who attended Lake City schools, taught in Central School for eight years, after which he went to medical school. His first medical practice was in Kamrar but for only a short time. In the year 1900, he returned to Lake City, acquiring a wood frame building on West Main Street, that was constructed by Peter Smith, Lake City's founder.

Dr. Delbert Warren and Anna Encell McCrary had three children: Gladys, Leta and Warren Encell McCrary, who, with his descendants, will be our subjects for the balance of this article.

Warren McCrary lived his entire life in Lake City. Like his father, he attended Lake City schools after which he obtained a medical degree from Northwestern University. In his college years, Dr. Warren was an athlete, his favorite sport was swimming. While in college he set a world's record in water plunging which has never been broken. In later years, plunging was eliminated from swimming sports activities. Dr. Warren graduated from Northwestern in 1917.

After graduation, he practiced in the Mennenger clinic in Kansas City for one year after which he returned to Lake City to become a partner with his father, Delbert W. McCrary. To celebrate the father-son partnership, Dr. Delbert purchased Billy Townsend's Columbia Hotel which he remodeled into a combination hospital and clinic with living quarters for two resident physicians.

Dr. Warren was united in marriage to Miss Mary Ashton in 1921, two years after the formation of the medical partnership. Warren was 29 years old. To this union, three children were born, Ashton, 1924, Donald, 1926, and a daughter Mary, in 1929. Mary was sickly and died when a child.

Both sons of Dr. Warren and Mary Ashton McCrary became medical doctors, which pleased Dr. Warren very much. I recall, back in the 1930's of Dr. Warren telling me how happy he was that both Ashton and Don had decided to study medicine. He told me he had dreams of being a partner with his sons in the same manner he practiced with his father, Delbert, thereby perpetuating the Scottish/American tradition of family unity.

During the years between the formation of the McCrary partnership in 1918 until Warren's unexpected death in 1946, his life was fully dedicated to helping heal the sick. Dr. Warren McCrary was widely known for his willingness to accept a house call at any time of the day or night and in an emergency, he would drop everything and leave at once.

After his father's demise in 1933, 15 years after the partnership was formed, Dr. Warren brought the following doctors into his hospital/clinic: Dr. L. G. Davidson, who later severed their relationship to open his own private office and hospital, Dr. H. B. field, Dr. O. L. Peek, and Dr. H. J. Lindbloom.

At the end of World War II, Dr. Warren established a partnership with Dr. Glenn S. Rost. I remember Warren telling me what an outstanding surgeon Dr. Rost was and what a fine contribution he would make to the medical services in this community. He intended for his relationship with Dr. rost to be a lasting one. The new partnership renamed the institution McCrary-Rost Hospital. Shortly after the partnership was formed and before Dr. Glenn and Irma Rost were able to arrive with their family, disaster struck. A happy community, preparing to celebrate their state's centennial, was stunned and shocked by the untimely death of Dr. Warren McCrary. He died of a heart attack in his clinic hospital within minutes after he was struck. Dr. Hobart was called immediately but was unable to save him. The date, June 2, 1946.

Unfortunately, Dr. Warren was deprived of the opportunity to work with Dr. Glenn Rost, or with his sons, who had one and three years left in medical school. Dr. Warren was both a physician and surgeon. He was a hard and dedicated worker, placing the needs of his patients ahead of his own. During World War II, he ran his hospital, taking care of his own patients plus the patients of three other Lake City doctors who went to war. He was the only doctor in this community.

In the writer's opinion, Dr. Warren McCrary died because of an unbearable work load under extreme pressure, making him as much a casualty of World War II as the brave heroes who paid the supreme price in battle. Under adverse conditions he served his community well, taking calls at all hours of the day or night to treat people, many of who were certainly not as sick as the doctor. Dr. Warren McCrary's death at the early age of 54 years might well remind us of the Biblical quotation: "Greater love hath no man than he who would give his life for another."

Dr. Warren's two sons, Ashton and Donald, like their father and grandfather, attended Lake City schools. Ashton received his medical degree at Northwestern, while Donald received his at the University of Nebraska. After graduation Dr. Donald worked in the University's department of obstetrics for six years after which he opened a practice in Manhattan, Kansas. Donald married Miss Betty Hicks, sister to Alva Hicks of Lake City. Their two daughters, Janet and Patty, were born in 1950 and 1952. Donald and Betty Hicks McCrary have no sons to carry on the McCrary name. Donald practiced in Manhattan only a few years before losing his life in an auto accident.

Dr. Ashton is the third generation of McCrary doctors to serve this community and when he decided to establish his practice in Lake City he became affiliated with Dr. Rost in the McCrary-Rost Hospital-Clinic. The McCrary-Rost clinic developed into a success story that has caused Lake City to be called a "Little Rochester" and has expanded Lake City's medical industry beyond the fondest hopes of our early doctors who laid the first bricks into the foundation for making our community medically famous.

Dr. Ashton's history after obtaining his M.D. 35 years ago includes practicing in the Panama Canal Zone where he studied tropical medicine. He returned to Lake City in 1952. Dr. Ashton was united in marriage to Miss Marilyn Fountain of Des Moines on Christmas day, 1950. To this union four children were born, who like their father, grandfather and great-grandfather, attend Lake City schools.