Press-Republican

October 20, 2012

'Country Doctor' exhibit opens at Alice T. Miner Museum

By ROBIN CAUDELL
Press-Republican

---- — CHAZY — Hannah and Martha Carter claimed they were Dr. George Clark’s “biggest fans” on the back of a 1967 color photograph of the girls seated with the doctor.

This photograph is among the memorabilia that comprises “George Clark III, Country Doctor,” an exhibit opening at 3 p.m. today at the Alice T. Miner Museum in Chazy.

“Dr. Clark willed his home and its contents to the museum,” said Amanda Palmer, museum director. “We were first listed as the beneficiary of the whole collection he and his mother put together.

“He was born there and lived there his whole life except when he was in the Army, medical school and college. His family had the house for 100 years.”

LOCAL HERITAGE

Clark’s mother was the former Harriet McDowell of Mooers. His father, George Warren Clark II, was the postman in Chazy.

“His family was in Chazy 180 years,” Palmer said. “His great-great-grandfather bought a hotel in Chazy. His name was Henry. He had the Fillmore Hotel, right here on the main strip. He sold it to his son, Harry, who was a Civil War veteran and lost his leg in the war. Harry changed the name to Clark’s Hotel.”

Harry was the father of George W. Clark I, Dr. Clark’s grandfather, the last hotel proprietor.

“They had a separate house. George (II) and his siblings spent lots of time at the hotel. Dr. George’s dad was the postman locally for 32 years. His mother, Harriet, was schoolteacher. She taught all over.

“He had no siblings. He was one of very few kids in his generation. Both of his parents had a lot of siblings.

“He did not marry. He really loved his small town and wanted to come back here and served the community, and that’s what he did for 53 years.”

SERVED IN ARMY

Clark graduated from Chazy Central Rural School in 1938. He attended Union College in Schenectady and medical school at McGill University in Montreal.

In November 1942, he was commissioned a U.S. Army lieutenant. He did a residency internship in Connecticut from 1944 to 1945 and reported to active duty later in ‘45. After stateside assignments at various posts, he was sent to the American Graves Registration Command in Europe from 1946 to 1948.

“They interviewed local villagers and all over where there were battles in World War II to find places where American soldiers were buried. They exhumed the bodies, identified them and reburied them in American graveyards around Europe.”

DOCTOR MEMORABILIA

After completing a residency-senior internship at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut, he returned to Chazy.

“He opened his doctor’s office right next door to his family home. That’s where the public library is now. He practiced out of that office until 2003. He was very intent on his patients’ privacy. He served multiple generations in this area.”

Clark’s baby scale, loaned by Dick and Nilah West, is part of the exhibit.

The museum did not accept the late doctor’s bequest because the museum could not support it.

“Our endowments can’t be used for anything except for our building and collection. Everything of Dr. Clark’s was sold in a big two-day auction in the summer of 2011.”

The final recipients of his estate were Union College and McGill University, his alma maters.

“They had to sell everything to split it all up. They agreed to allow everything to do with local history, George Clark and his family, to stay in Chazy. That’s how we ended up with hundreds of family photos, personal letters between family members, lots of documents and deeds.

“That’s why we decided to mount an exhibit about him. We had all this wonderful material. We thought it was good to honor someone who served the community so long.”

PERSONAL CARE

Clark was a dying breed of general practitioner.

“Medicine has changed so much. He was one of very few people who still made house calls. He loved his patients and thought they needed that kind of care.”

The exhibit includes a darling picture of the future doctor in his Lloyd Looms Weaving baby carriage in 1921.

There are many portraits of him pre-doctor days but few images from 1950 to 2003.

“There was this big gap,” Palmer said. “It’s difficult to illustrate the time he was a country doctor, which is kind of funny.”

Email Robin Caudell:

rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

IF YOU GO WHAT: "George Clark III, Country Doctor." WHEN: Opens 3 p.m. today. WHERE: Alice T. Miner Museum, 9618 State Route 9, Chazy. HOURS: Open Tuesday through Saturday by appointment. Tours 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. PHONE: 846-7336.