Early doctor and coroner exemplified credibility | PostIndependent.com

Early doctor and coroner exemplified credibility

Willa SoncartyRegistrar, Frontier Historical Society and MuseumGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyDr. Leman G. Clark was a physician, surgeon and civic leader. Coming to Glenwood Springs in 1887, his involvement in the physical health of his fellow residents and in the social health of his community earned him the reputation of being one of Glenwood Springs beloved physicians.

“Dr. L.G. Clark … is a man of determined character and always does his duty. His is independent in all his actions, has his own opinions and expresses them fearlessly.” – Glenwood Post, March 20, 1897 Health issues brought Dr. Leman Gibbs Clark to Glenwood Springs in early 1887. A graduate of Chicago’s Rush Medical School, he had established a successful medical and surgical practice in Plymouth County, Iowa. It was the climate of the West, and that of Glenwood Springs in particular, that prompted Clark to bring his talents here.Clark and his wife, Carrie, quickly immersed themselves in the town’s social fabric. She was a member of many women’s clubs and an unwavering supporter of the Glenwood Springs Presbyterian Church. Clark, in addition to a busy medical practice, involved himself in politics.Garfield County Republicans selected Clark as their 1889 nominee for county coroner. He was elected and demonstrated in his first term the credibility of character that would ensure his re-election to the office for the next decade.As a physician, Clark treated the routine as well as the horrific. Accidents of all types tested his surgical skills. He traveled to many of the mining communities in all types of weather to tend to the sick and injured. As a coroner, he was charged to investigate the county’s most gruesome tragedies. Garfield County was rocked by two large accidents within days of each other in 1897. On Sept. 3, a mine explosion killed 12 miners at the Sunlight Mine. Clark was present when the bodies were removed from the mine. Just as his coroner’s inquest was finished, a massive collision between a westbound Denver and Rio Grande passenger train and an eastbound Colorado Midland freight train occurred Sept. 10 at Gramid near New Castle. Many D. & R.G. passengers were injured, and 16 were killed in the fiery wreck. Coroner Clark was on the scene of the disaster. His efficient inquest placed the blame on the Colorado Midland crew.Possessing a cheerful nature and generous heart, Clark ardently supported all clean sports – especially baseball – and the health benefits that physical activity provided. He served on the Glenwood Springs City Council in the early 1900s. He was one of three doctors who established the Glenwood Sanitarium Nurses Training School at 512 10th St. in 1917.Health problems plagued the aging doctor, forcing his practice’s closure in about 1927. As his health worsened, he grew despondent. On March 2, 1930, the community was shocked and saddened to learn that Clark had taken his own life. At his funeral, a large crowd of mourners paid their respect to a man who attempted to build a healthy community in many ways.”Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.

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