Dr. Bertha Reynolds

Her eulogy by the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce reads;
Dr Bertha Reynolds
(1868-1961)

Dr Bertha

" Dr. Bertha,"as her patients called her, was a woman pioneer in the practice of medicine. She was born in 1868 in Thiensville, Wisconsin, into a family of doctors; nine of her brothers and male cousins entered the medical field. In 1892, Bertha's family moved to Nebraska where she attended the Lincoln Normal School and she taught for a few years.

But her real love was science. Bertha studied chemistry and botany at the University of Nebraska, but her male instructors discouraged her from pursuing her M.D., as did the many doctors in her own family. Undaunted, Bertha enrolled in the Women's Medical College of Chicago in 1898 and graduated three years later as an M.D.

She joined the practice of her brother, Dr. Nelson Reynolds, in Lone Rock in Richland County in 1902, having been unsuccessful in finding any other position. From the start, people called her Dr. Bertha to distinguish her from the "other Dr. Reynolds." In 1904, Dr. Nelson Reynolds moved to Milwaukee to advance his career, leaving the Lone Rock practice to Bertha. As the only available doctor, she began to win grudging acceptance.

Dr. Bertha rode her horse sidesaddle during decent weather and used a horse-drawn cutter in winter to reach her patients. She was the first in Lone Rock to purchase a Model T, which increased her ability to make house calls quickly. Sometimes, however, the elements conspired to make the Model T useless. In the spring of 1923, the roads were too muddy and the streams too high to permit any type of land travel, but Bertha had patients to reach. She learned that a barnstorming aviator had landed at the Lone Rock airport for service. After a quick consultation, Dr. Bertha was flown across the swollen Wisconsin River to Clyde and then to Plain by Charles Lindbergh, then an unknown aviation pioneer.

At age 71, in 1939, Dr. Bertha retired. A Distinguished Service Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was among the many accolades she received. But this was a short-lived retirement. In 1942, when Clyde's doctor was drafted, Dr. Bertha went back to work and continued to practice until 1953 when, at age 85, she again retired. Dr. Bertha Reynolds remains prominent among Wisconsin women who broke into male dominated professions.
 

There is a street named in her honor in the village of Lone Rock, where she practiced medicine.



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