Hughes' Views & News

Obituary of Dr. John S. Grogan

Posted in Uncategorized by tahughesnc on September 19, 2017


This obituary for my wife’s great grandfather was published on the front page of the Wadena (Minnesota) Pioneer Journal on Thursday, October 30, 1952.

Heart Attack Ends Colorful Career Of Dr. John S. Grogan

Final Rites Held at St. Ann’s Church Saturday Morning

A sickly youngster, nursed to health through a self-imposed athletic program, were the two factors which led Dr. John Grogan to a brilliant athletic and medic career, and at the age of 72, a heart attack brought a close to his full and beneficent life. Funeral services for Dr. Grogan were conducted Saturday morning from St. Ann’s church with Msgr. Edward Mahowald officiating.

It is rather unique how the events in the life of Dr. Grogan stem around his youth, and how childhood ambition was attained.

Born at Streator, Illinois, Sept. 24, 1880, the son of John and Sabina Grogan, he was one of 13 children. During his youth he was a sickly youngster, and it was while under the care of physicians the desire first rooted to become a doctor. Baseball being a popular sport at Streator, John became interested in the sport and the desire burned to become a baseball player.

As a young man, he did become a good baseball player and developed into a better than average second baseman, and the niche was carved for his future career.

A Streator townman noting the ability of John, contacted a friend at Knox College, and a scout was persuaded to come and watch this youngster in action. The scout was impressed, and John was induced to enroll at Knox University to become a member of the University baseball team. Once in college, and his athletic ability scratched, it was found he had other talents in the field and became an idol and star on the football field. One of the brightest moments during his grid career was the time he drop kicked a 55-yard field goal against the University of Illinois.

Following his graduation from Knox University in 1904, he acquired a coaching assignment at Fargo College and later at the University of Idaho. The childhood desire to become a physician continued to burn, and at the age of 29, he turned his back on a brilliant coaching career and enrolled at Northwestern University to begin his study of medicine.

Graduating from Northwestern University in 1914, he established his first practice at Kenmare, N.D., and it was while here that he became interested in an immigrant girl, Magna Melby, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ole Melby of Feiring, Norway. Miss Melby, superintendent of nurses at the hospital in Kenmare, accepted the attention of the new doctor, and on Nov. 9, 1916, through marriage a team was formed.

The young couple left Kenmare and went to Flaxton, N.D., in 1916 where Dr. Grogan set up a new practice, and remained there for the next nine years. In December, 1925, the couple came to Wadena, and the doctor joined the staff at the Wadena Clinic and for the next 22 years carved for himself a deep niche throughout this entire area as a successful practitioner.

In 1948 Dr. Grogan left the clinic to retire, but he felt he was too young to make it a complete retirement, and joined the Red Cross Mobile unit during the early summer of 1951, traveling throughout Minnesota. Late in July of this year, while the unit was at Madison (Minn.) Dr. Grogan was stricken with a heart attack, and he was forced to leave the unit and returned to his home at Wadena. Making a partial recovery in the months following, he never regained his strength, and small attacks continued, with the fatal attack striking at 10 o’clock Wednesday morning, Oct. 22 at his home. Previous to the attack at Madison, the doctor had trouble with his heart, the first was in 1936.

While Dr. Grogan has made many contributions to the community, the most lasting is perhaps the beautiful school grounds and the athletic field. Through his efforts, the school ground was landscaped and beautified over the protest, “the children will not respect it.” Dr. Grogan was of the firm belief children respected beauty, and if given something nice, they would respect it. His calculation was correct, and the Wadena school grounds today stand as a living memorial to his effort, as does the athletic field set-up, which is considered one of the most beautiful in this part of the state.

Since the time of his most recent illness, he could not refrain from periodic visits to the field to see that it was being properly cared for, and the night before his death was at the field to watch youngsters play a football game.

While serving on the Wesley hospital staff, he was also a member of the Sanitorium Board, County Chairman of the Mayo Memorial Fund, and as a member of the Wadena School Board from 1933 to 1951. He was a member of the Phi Beta Pi academic and Nu Sigma Nu Medical Fraternities and represented the medical profession in Rotary Club membership in Wadena.

Left to mourn his passing beside the widow are two daughters and a son, Mrs. Robert Hight (Helen) of Dover, Mass., Mrs. Robert Weber (Joan) of Buffalo, N.Y., and Dr. John M. Grogan of Denver, Colorado. There are three grandchildren. Brothers and sister left are Dr. Edward Grogan of Galesburg, Ill., Patrick Grogan of Jolliet, Ill., Hugh Grogan of Los Angeles, Calif., and Delia Grogan of Streator, Ill.

Among those who come from a distance were Joseph Zalusky of Minneapolis, Dr. and Mrs. Edward Grogan of Galesburg, Ill., Patrick Grogan of Jolliet, Ill., Dr. and Mrs. Critchfield of St. Paul, Mr. and Mrs. Phillip DuGrene of St. Paul, Gordon Gilbertson of Portland, Ore., Mrs. John Weniger of Wahpeton, Mrs. Oscar Kron of Williston, N.D., and Mrs. Frank Kreidler of Wahpeton, N.D.