Column: A 'towering figure in Worthington medical history'One of the next stunning developments for Worthington in World War II came May 7 when the island of Corregidor in Manila Bay surrendered. Navy Lt. Emmet Manson, son Dr. and Mrs. F. M. Manson, became a prisoner of Japan’s invading army. Even better than they knew Charlie Sundberg, people knew Dr. Manson.
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Nobles County’s Sundberg Avenue, named for Charlie Sundberg, extends from just west of the Graham Lakes in the north to just west of Indian Lake in the south. Charlie Sundberg was a pioneer horticulturist, another of those early residents who proved Nobles County is apple country. Sunderg’s orchard was north and west of Worthington.
One thing people remembered about Charlie Sundberg was that he also raised juice-dripping strawberries. In that time, residents did not go out to Charlie’s farm to pick berries. Charlie brought the strawberries to Worthington with a wagon and a team of horses. There was excitement when Charles Sundberg made his June appearances.
Lee Kall, young sailor from Worthington, was at Pearl Harbor on that long-ago Sunday that lives still in infamy. The Kall family (Carl and Lee, Lottie and Ellen) was known well in its own right, but it was a matter of note that it was Charlie Sundberg’s grandson who was at Pearl Harbor.
One of the next stunning developments for Worthington in World War II came May 7 when the island of Corregidor in Manila Bay surrendered. Navy Lt. Emmet Manson, son Dr. and Mrs. F. M. Manson, became a prisoner of Japan’s invading army. Even better than they knew Charlie Sundberg, people knew Dr. Manson. People of the community made calls and told of their sympathy as they might if Emmet Manson were dead. Worthington shared the Mansons’ anguish.
Dr. Manson was a towering figure in Worthington medical history.
Recall 1899; Worthington was overtaken by a smallpox plague. The young Canadian, Dr. John Thomson, himself died after working to save others. Dr. G.B. Curran telegraphed his brother-in-law, Dr. Manson, and said he needed help badly. That was when Frank Manson first stepped off a Worthington train. Fifty-six years later he still was here, still lending aid and counsel.
Dr. Manson had to quit surgery in 1939 — his hands were burned severely by excessive exposure to X-rays through a long period of years. Worthington rued this. Frank Manson had become a man beloved in the community. He continued as an internist.
In his first week at Worthington, as he confronted the smallpox crisis, Dr. Manson wondered, “Where is the hospital?” There was none.
Three times Dr. Manson led campaigns to create a Worthington hospital. Three times his efforts were rebuffed. A city alderman was blunt: “If doctors want a hospital, let them build it.” That is what Dr. Manson did, in 1906.
The Mansons’ home was opposite the Methodist Church on the corner where the Daily Globe press building is located. Dr. Manson expanded his house significantly and opened the door to his new hospital. (Although it is not apparent, part of that pioneer hospital remains still as a sturdy apartment building moved to 609 Burlington Ave.)
The Manson hospital was a focus of the community. There probably are local residents still who can show a scar where Dr. Manson removed an appendix or sewed up a deep gash on an arm or a leg.
No one who knew Frank Manson was surprised — no one who knew the doctor’s inclination to respond quickly and decisively to a need was surprised that he became the first Worthington resident to volunteer for military duty when World War I was declared. April, 1917.
Dr. Manson was appointed chief of surgeons at Camp Dodge, Iowa, where young draftees of the local region began their military service. The U.S. Army valued F.M. Manson. He was sent for specialized training to Mayo Clinic and Rockefeller Center. He ministered to young soldiers during the flu pandemic of 1918.
After 22 months with the military — first to leave, last to return — Dr. Manson resumed seeing patients at his office on 11th Street.
The Mansons were like this. Frank Manson’s father gave up his medical practice to volunteer in the Civil War. Son Emmet, a dentist, was in service to the Navy before America was involved in World War II. Emmet survived four years of captivity.
Dr. F.M. Manson was many things — he led the campaign to have gravel spread on the road from Worthington to Fulda. He served on the library board. He helped to create a Worthington golf club.
On his 85th birthday, Dr. Manson winked at well-wishers and told them:
“You’re never too old to feel young.”
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.