Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stories about Dr. Lyle Hare -- our own country doctor!

Mary Selbe and Darleen Young shared
many great stories about Dr. Lyle Hare
Very few folks around Spearfish haven’t heard of Lyle Hare.  Many older folks remember him well, and the younger ones recognize his name – which is attached to the football stadium at Black Hills State University.

Despite freezing temperatures, a sizable crowd of area folks enjoyed a step back in time Tuesday (2/7/12), when Darleen Young and Mary Selbe shared a collection of stories and photographs about the legendary Dr. Hare for the February program of the Spearfish Area Historical Society.  The meetings are held on the first Tuesday evening of each month from September through May.

And while the two ladies shared some of their personal memories of the “true country doctor,” as Darleen Young described him, there were many in the audience who recounted many stories about Dr. Hare, a surgeon who for many years was the only doctor in town.

Born in the tiny community of Cedar Rapids, Nebraska, in 1885 to immigrants from Canada, Hare and his family later were among the first to settle in the panhandle community of Hemingford.  When he was about four years old, the family moved to Hill City, South Dakota, where the elder Hare farmed and worked in the newspaper business.

Lyle came to Spearfish to attend the Normal, where he played both football and basketball.  After graduating in 1907, he entered the University of South Dakota School of Medicine and completed his course work in 1909.  While there, he played football and made quite a name for himself.

Army First Lieutenant Lyle Hare - 1918 
“He was quite an athlete,” reported Darleen Young.

“Two years in a row, he was a unanimous choice for All-Conference fullback, and some sportswriters of the time even mentioned him when writing about their selections for All-American teams.”

Then it was off to the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago, graduating in 1911, and then marrying Edna Stone, a girl from northwest Iowa. After an internship at the University Hospital in Chicago, they made a big move back west.  And athletics played a role in that move, too.

Dr. Hare opened an office in Spearfish and also accepted a job as football coach and school physician at the Normal.  He reportedly served as athletic director as well.

“The Homestake Mining Company appointed him as their physician for employees and their families living in Spearfish,” according to Darleen Young.

During World War I, Dr. Hare was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and sent to Europe -- assigned as a doctor at Base Hospital #109 in France.

The war ended in 1918, and Dr. Hare’s wife, Edna, became a victim of the flu epidemic and died.  Their daughter, Helen Jane, was about four or five years old at the time.  Hare returned home and continued his practice in Spearfish, gaining a well-deserved reputation as a fine doctor and surgeon.  He later married Hazel Beckman of St. Onge.

Walter Buchholz recalled Dr. Hare
giving him quite a scare as a kid!
“He really was a true country doctor,” said Young, noting that Dr. Hare traveled throughout the area on horseback, by teams, sleighs, and cars.  “Sometimes, when roads were impassable, his doctor’s calls were made by airplane -- flown by Clyde Ice.”

Dr. Hare was also deeply engaged in civic matters and served as Mayor Spearfish from 1922 to 1926.

Mary Selbe remembered that Dr. Hare also was a member of the State Department Board of Health and Medicine – and that he also served as President of the Department of Medical Examiners for several years.

During the Depression years of the 1930’s, things got so tough that the Normal School cut back to a two-year program.  Many people close to the situation credit Dr. Hare for a key role in restoring the four-year program to the school in 1940.

During World War II, Dr. Hare became a member of the Lawrence County Selective Service Board and reportedly helped carry on the practices of other doctors who had been called in to the military.

Mary Selbe remembered that “Dr. Hare had a cabin over in Wyoming near Sand Creek, just down the way from the Annenbergs, and often at 4 p.m. on Fridays, he’d close the office and go fishing over there.”  It seems that he always managed to come home with some good catches – perhaps because a friend at the nearby hatchery would open the gates and improve the fishing for him!

Dr. Lyle Hare (1885-1975)
Selbe also recalled that Dr. Hare’s daughter, Jane, had tuberculosis and was in a sanitarium near Hill City for a time.  However, she recovered and completed her education, becoming a dermatologist in Rapid City for many years.

The football stadium at what is now Black Hills State University was named for Dr. Lyle Hare in 1947, recognizing his contributions to the athletic programs at the school and his staunch advocacy on behalf of the institution.  A new stadium was built in 1960, and major improvements were made to the facility in 2005.

Hazel Hare died in 1972, and Lyle Hare died in 1975, ending a remarkable career.

The historical society evening was capped with some treats and wonderful one-on-one conversations among attendees, several of whom were delivered in to this world by Dr. Hare

Next month, Everett Follette will share some of the perceptions and misconceptions about the geology of the northern Black Hills.  Mark you calendar for Tuesday, March 6th at the Spearfish Senior Citizen’s Center.  The program starts at 7:30 p.m.