Bio: Olson, William A. Olson



Surnames: Olson, Baker, VanGorden


----Source: Marshfield News Herald; Dec. 4, 1974




Dr. William Olson--pictured at his desk in his office at Greenwood. During 41 years of medical experience, he delivered some 4,500 babies in four decades, a number almost equivalent to four times the estimated 1973 population of the city of Greenwood.


Greenwood's Family Doctor to Close Practice After 41 Years



GREENWOOD--Dr. William A. Olson has been practicing medicine here for 41 years, and when they call him a "family doctor" they're not fooling. He delivered 15 babies to one Greenwood couple.


In fact, if all the babies Dr. Olson has ushered into the Greenwood area since he came here had settled down in one community, it would have a population of 4,500--four times that of Greenwood.


But after Dec. 27 he doesn't plan to deliver any more babies or treat any more aches or pains or fevers. He's going to do what he has tried to get other people to do for 41 years--take the doctor's advice. He's going to retire.


Then, shortly after Jan. 1, he and Mrs. Olson are going to leave and spend the winter in Florida. But Greenwood will remain their home.


Born at Blanchardville on June 21, 1902, "Bill" Olson received his elementary and high school education there and graduated from what was then Platteville Teacher's College in 1922. He received his bachelor of science and doctor of medicine degrees at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1939 and 1932, respectively.


After a year's internship at the University of Michigan State Hospital in Ann Arbor, he did graduate work at Cook County Hospital, Chicago.


His marriage to Corine Baker, a graduate nurse, took place at Blanchardville on Aug. 8, 1925. They arrived in Greenwood on Aug. 15, 1933, and six month later Dr. Olson established the Greenwood Clinic.


The Olsons have a son, Dr. John, who is a professor of medical science in Rochester, NY, and a daughter, Janet (Mrs. Richard VanGorden), Neillsville, and have seven grandchildren.


During his first six years in Greenwood Dr. Olson was associated with the hospitals at Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire, but for the past 35 years he has been on the staff of St. Joseph's Hospital of Marshfield, where he was chief of staff in 1955.


In 1960 more than 400 persons gathered in Greenwood High School for a "Dr. Olson Day" dinner at which many of "his people" were present, including the first child and the first set of twins he had delivered after he came to Greenwood, and the parents of the 4,000th baby he had "brought."


Since then the number of births over which he has "presided" has risen to 4,500, and he recalls that nearly half of them were in homes, not hospitals. In the early days of his practice "more than 99 percent" were born at home, and only when an emergency situation was anticipated was the prospective mother taken to a hospital.


Dr. Olson was the attending physician at the nativities of 15 children of one Warner township couple, and at the births of three Greenwood area brothers who became a celebrated trio because they were born on New Year's Days at two-year intervals. He recalls one busy period when he delivered 13 babies in 33 hours.


"In my early years in Greenwood," Dr. Olson observed, "doctors always made emergency calls to homes, regardless of weather. I had one of those outfits called 'snowmobiles' and my driver and I often faced blizzard and storm to get to a person in need of medical attention. It never mattered what hour of day or night the call came, or the type of road one had to travel."


One of the four doctors who organized the Society of General Practioners of Wisconsin, Dr. Olson says he has always been proud to be called a general practitioner.


He rejoices in the progress that has occurred in the field of medicine since he began his practice, observing that aside from surgical advances, alcohol, ether and chloroform have been replaced by far superior anesthetics, and modern "wonder drugs" have "proved a godsend" in controlling infections and saving lives.


Widely known as a conservationist and outdoorsman, Dr. Olson has hunted big game in the Rockies both in the United States and Canada, and in Alaska and the Yukon, and has gone on an African safari and hunted birds in Asia. He also has a color slide collection of more than 400 Wisconsin wild flowers he has photographed, as well as many trophies of the hunt.


An eloquent speaker, he has been called upon to address a variety of organizations and groups. For relaxation, he enjoys reading history.


Dr. Olson joined the Masonic order at Colby in 1924, later transferring to the Greenwood lodge, of which he is a past master. He is a member of the Royal Arch and of the Knights of Templar Commandery at Neillsville, the Scottish Rite Consistory at Eau Claire, and Zor Shrine Temple at Madison. He is a member of the Greenwood Rotary Club and of several medical societies, and he and Mrs. Olson belong to Our Savior Lutheran Church of Greenwood.


"It is with mixed emotions," Dr. Olson confessed, "that I close a long career of medical service to the wonderful people of Greenwood, but recollection of the many friendships formed during these years will help me adjust to retirement. I thank the thousands of people who have made living in Greenwood so wonderful, so thrilling, and so pleasant."


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