Spring is the time for birth. And when it comes to births, no one in Eden Valley history probably did it more than Dr. Charles (D.C.) O’Connor, who served the city from 1911-60.
At one time Dr. O’Connor was credited for helping give birth to as many as half the residents of Eden Valley. Remember, those early years of O’Connor’s practice were times when expectant mothers did not go to the hospital to have babies; they delivered them in their homes.
My father, the late Jerome Nistler, was born in a house that his parents (Henry and Mathilda (Pelzer) Nistler lived at in Eden Valley in 1924. Chances are that it was Doc O’Connor who was present at the delivery.
Eden Valley and the surrounding area have been blessed to have many wonderful doctors serve their communities over the years. However, O’Connor’s story is especially interesting. In addition, it almost did not happen.
As the story goes, Doc O’Connor started practice in Eden Valley, but part of his heart was back in St. Paul, where lived the love of his life, Cecilia Garvin. O’Connor wanted to marry Garvin, but told her he would not live in Eden Valley without her. Luckily, for thousands of Eden Valley residents to come, she said yes, and in October of 1911, the young couple called Eden Valley their home.
Together the young couple had two children, one who became a lawyer and the other, a doctor.
There are many stories of O’Connor’s kind heart and thoughtfulness. One of these tales centers on his billing system – or lack of one – depending on how you look at it.
Some stories included how some of the babies O’Connor helped deliver grew up to be adults before their bills for the delivery were eventually paid. In addition, it was not as though O’Connor was constantly bothering his patients for their payments. Some folks said they could not ever remember receiving a second bill or reminder notice.
O’Connor was so highly respected that in 1958 the Eden Valley Chamber of Commerce honored him for 47 years of service to the area. On Sept. 1 of that year, townsfolk hosted a huge parade in his honor. In the parade, O’Connor drove a shiny black buggy pulled by horses; similar to the rig he would make house calls in with his little black bag.
Numerous stories abounded about the house calls O’Connor made in nasty snowstorms, heavy rains and stifling heat.
And town residents were greatly saddened when O’Connor passed away on May 5, 1964, at the age of 81.