Bio: Toraason, Dr. Clifford (Eulogized – Jan
Surnames: Toraason, Wilson, Terwedo, Klammer
---------Source: OWEN ENTERPRISE (Owen, Clark County, Wis.) 13 Jan 1966
In 1920 Dr. Clifford Toraason came to Owen (Clark Co., Wis.) to begin his practice of dentistry, at the suggestion of a friend and college classmate, Dr. Landry, who was then practicing in Cadott. It proved to be a happy choice of mutual satisfaction to both him and the community, and he stayed to spend 40 working years until his retirement in 1960, serving and becoming acquainted with several generations of the people in Owen and the surrounding area.
“Doc” was born in Blair, Wis. on Oct. 24, 1888, the eighth child in a family of ten children. His parents, Peter and Karen Toraason, had come to America from Norway in their youth, married, and established a large farm on the edge of Blair. In addition to being a farmer and gunsmith, his father was also a blacksmith and therefore was known as “Ped Smed.” He served as the local dentist and veterinarian, too, and crafted his own tools for performing these services. One such tool that he used for extracting teeth is part of the museum display at Northwestern University Dental School. Some of these abilities were seemingly passed on to his progeny, as three of his sons and one grandson were to become dentists, and three other grandchildren chose a medical career.
Doc was graduated from the Balire High School in 1908. While there he had shown considerable ability in both baseball and football, and had the unusual honor of being captain of his football team for two consecutive years. He continued to participate in sports, playing baseball locally and for a summer in a league comprised of cities in northern Minnesota and North Dakota. This inclination for athletics and dentistry was shared with two of his brother, who displayed exceptional ability in baseball and other sports, and in 1918 he was the second one of the three to be graduated from Northwestern University Dental School. After graduation he served in the United States Army Dental Corps until the end of World War I.
His avid interest in all sports events continued throughout the years. During the 1920’s he played second base on the Owen city team and became a golf enthusiast at the then – new Meadowview Country Club, where he won an engraved silver cup in a golf match in 1929. Mr. A.M. Wilson, Owen’s “Connie Mack,” once said, “Doc was a good ball player but he never ran any faster than he had too.” Being ambidextrous to some degree he used both right and left handed golf clubs, as well as both kinds of dental forceps.
His interests also included history and politics, the latter born after hearing William Jennings Bryan give one of his impassioned speeches. An office call might well include a discussion on these topics and the chance to listen to the football or baseball games on the radio. The radio was also of interest to a couple of local teenage electronic enthusiast who frequently stopped by the office to work on it.
The many dances held in Owen during the 1920’s gave him the opportunity to develop skill on the dance floor. At one of these dances in the fall of 1921 he met the new high school Latin and English teacher, Viola Terwedo, on one of her first evenings in Owen. The town lost one of its most eligible bachelors when this courtship led to marriage on July 1, 1927. After marriage, Mrs. Toraason stopped teaching, but was active in church and civic affairs throughout the years. They had four children; the first being a daughter, Sidney, now Mrs. Wm. Klammer, and the last, a son, Clifford, Jr. Mrs. Toraason died on Aug. 5, 1964.
A lifelong love and respect for children was evidenced early in their marriage by the way neighborhood children would gather on their steps to welcome Doc home from work. The usual post treatment prescription for youthful patients and their companions was a nickel and instructions – “To go get yourself and ice cream cone.” Children liked to run his errands to the post office and drug store and were generously paid.
He enjoyed every opportunity that came during a workday to visit along Main Street and get the latest news or to get a cup of coffee. For many years his work week consisted of six days and four nights. Outside of working hours he spent all his time with his family. Until his illness and hospitalization in 1958, his only vacations consisted of an annual trip to a dental convention.
A member of a past era, it had not been unusual for him to bring home chicken and eggs as payment for his services. Many recall his willingness to treat a toothache at any hour. Although he declined a proposed testimonial dinner, his former patients pay tribute to his kindness and generosity by their many private testimonies, often referring to him as a humanitarian who selflessly served his community.
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