The Story of Dr. Kate

The Story of Dr. Kate, the “Angel on Snowshoes”.

Philanthropy built the Howard Young Medical Center (HYMC) and the Ascension Eagle River Hospital, (AERH). Through the dedication of strong-willed Dr. Kate Newcomb and the vision and dedication of the Eagle River community, HYMC and AERH became a reality.

The services of Howard Young Medical Center began with the dream of a country doctor, Dr. Kate Pelham Newcomb, who delivered medical care to the early residents of the Lakeland area. Dr. Kate, known as the “Angel on Snowshoes” to the area she tirelessly served, frequently made her rounds on snowshoes throughout the winter months. Throughout her lengthy career of serving the surrounding communities, she never once billed for her services. More often than not, she usually accepted vegetables and firewood in exchange for her services. In the early 1940’s, she dreamed of opening a hospital for the community. That dream became a reality and the hospital was built in 1954 with the help of a community-based fundraiser led by schoolchildren who set out to raise one-million pennies. In 1954, after Dr. Kate’s appearance on the nationally televised “This is your Life,” over 1,700,000+ pennies poured in from around the country. All totaled, the campaign raised over $117,000 and construction began.

While the Lakeland Community staffed and utilized their new facility, a vision was being formed in the Eagle River area. Concerned citizens realized the need for a care facility that would enable local physicians to practice medicine without having to travel to distant hospitals. The “Buy a Brick to Help the Sick” campaign began and over the next few years, hundreds of people in the Eagle River area contributed their time and money to bring the community’s dream to life. In 1961, Eagle River Memorial Hospital opened its doors.

Throughout the years, other benefactors came forward to help the two hospitals improve and expand their services. H.S. Tuttle, Howard Young, Colonel Norman Kalmar and Walter Olson were among the key contributors. In each case, the desire and willingness to give to others helped to ensure that the dreams of future health care growth and potential were possible.

As health organizations look forward into the future, they recognize that new trails must be forged. The community’s health care environments will be shaped – in part – through the continued giving spirit of the community.

The Legacy

The indomitable Dr. Kate held a vision of bringing first-class medical care to the Northwoods area.

All legacies have their own beginnings. From earliest childhood, Katie Pelham had a dream. She longed to be a doctor, and with fierce determination fought hard against all the obstacles family and society could and did raise against this ambition. 

Her ultimate vision was achieved with the opening of Lakeland Memorial Hospital in 1954.

Dr. Kate’s legacy is part of our heritage in the Lakeland community. It is up to us to continue it.

The Women’s Legacy Council

In 2011, the Howard Young Foundation leadership embarked on an ambitious and vital initiative to ensure quality healthcare for generations to come in the Northwoods.

An essential element of the initiative was the creation of the Women’s Legacy Council (WLC).

Based on models throughout the country, Women and Philanthropy volunteer groups have a vision to bring about positive and necessary change in the world through women’s compassion and therapy.