Dean History: 1940s- Dean - WI

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Dean Medical Group's History

A Tour Through The Decades

  • The Wisconsin State Journal announces the death of Dr. Joe Dean in 1943.
  • Portrait of Dr. Joe Dean from the 1940s.
  • Dr. Joe Dean and his wife Minna spend time with their grandchildren.
  • Official military photos of JC, Frank and J.L. Dean.
  • Frank Dean is pictured here in his military uniform during WWII.
  • Dr. Frank Dean served as a combat surgeon in the Naval Medical Corps in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1946. His presidential appointment as surgeon is shown here.
  • Dr. Frank Dean poses in uniform with his wife Gladys.
  • Dr. Joseph Dean is welcomed back from the Navy Medical Corps in this Wisconsin State Journal ad from 1946.
  • An Aug. 17, 1947 Wisconsin State Journal article announces Dr. JL Dean has joined the Dean Clinic staff.

Dr. Joseph Dean Dies, World War II

The make-up of the staff of the Dean Clinic changed considerably in the 1940s, although the decade both began and ended with seven physicians in practice. Dr. Joseph Dean, the founder of the Dean Clinic, died at his home on March 6, 1943, at the age of 64. He had become one of the Midwest’s best known physicians and surgeons. He helped Dean Clinic and St. Mary’s Hospital grow and become highly regarded in the community. He also served a wider world through his work on the state board of health for many years.

At Joseph Dean’s funeral, the Reverend Father A.V. Grace expressed the deep sadness and loss experienced by the community: “Dr. Dean possessed the virtues of industry, honesty, temperance and charity, and his exemplary conduct makes his death an occasion for sorrow. He will be mourned by those he healed and comforted, and by the sick and suffering for whom he stayed the hand of death.”

After his death, Dr. Joe’s wife inherited his share of the corporation that owned Dean Clinic. Within a few years, she transferred title of her shares to her sons, J.C. and Frank Dean. As a result of the transfer, Joe’s brother, Dr. James P. Dean, still owned two-fifths of the corporation shares and Drs. Frank and J.C. Dean and Edwin Schneiders each owned one-fifth.

Effects of World War II

The passing of Dr. Joe and subsequent realignment of ownership of the clinic occurred under the shadow of World War II. Many of the younger physicians were called into service, leaving Madison with a scarcity of doctors similar to what had occurred during World War I. Three of Dean Clinic’s seven physicians served during the second world war:

  • Dr. Frank Dean, lieutenant, served as a combat surgeon in the Naval Medical Corps in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1946, participating in the invasions of Iwo Jima, Saipan, the Marshall and Philippines Islands, and Tarawa.  (See letter Frank Dean sent home from the Philippines during World War II.)
  • Dr. Joseph Dean Jr. (“J.C.”) served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy from 1944 to 1946 aboard the USS Jefferson in the Pacific and stateside at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Norfolk and the Bunker Hill Naval Station in Indiana. He received a battle star for participating in the battle of Okinawa.
  • Dr. George Oosterhous served three and a half years as Captain in the Army-Air Force Medical Corps, with the majority of time spent with the orthopedic surgical division in Southeastern England.

Like Dr. Joe’s experience during World War I, when so many physicians served in the military, Dr. Jim worked endless hours under considerable strain throughout World War II. That’s because he was the only general surgeon for Dean Clinic remaining in Madison during the war. His colleague, Dr. William Middleton, reported that the Sisters of St. Mary repeatedly told him about the “unbelievable extremities to which [Dr. James Dean] drove himself” during the war. A few years after the war ended, Dr. James Dean suffered a heart attack and retired from his medical practice. He continued to help manage the clinic but regretted having to retire prematurely.

End of an era

In 1947, shortly before Dr. Jim retired, his son, Dr. James (“J.L.”) Dean, became a Dean Clinic physician, joining his cousins, Drs. Frank and J.C. Dean, who had returned to the clinic after the war. After serving in the medical corps of the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1947, J.L. returned home to Madison to practice medicine as an obstetrician and gynecologist, and continued to do so for the next 32 years. When J.L. officially retired from Dean Clinic on January 1, 1979, he was the last member of the Dean family to practice medicine with Dean Clinic.


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