Dr. Samuel Rainville

by Olaf Braatelien

The little doctor is gone. He is no longer circulating around in the area of the two blocks just south of the Court House and where he was a most familiar figure. Often he would be seen going to or coming from the Court House probably in connection with his duties as County Doctor, Coroner or as a member of the County Insanity Board. Sometimes he would go there perhaps only to chat with his friend Judge Dingler and in whose office was often found. Doc liked to sit down for a friendly talk and he was a good conversationalist.

During his forty-five years of medical practice Dr. Rainville has answered many calls. Many a time he was awakened in the night by the persistent clanging of the telephone and Doc was always willing to go. The other night he answered a different kind of call, that still call that comes to all of us sooner or later.

No doctor who continues to practice long in one place is ever in favor with all of the people of his locality. Dr. Rainville was no exception in this respect. He didn’t satisfy everybody. Sometimes his diagnosis in some cases may have been wrong while some other doctor may have diagnosed it right. Then again, Dr. Rainville may have been right and some other doctor may have been wrong. One time Dr. Charlie Mayo was taken suddenly and acutely ill and he diagnosed his own trouble as gallstones but the physician called in to attend him said it was appendicitis and operated to remove the appendix. After a few days a relapse occured it was decided that Dr. Charlie did have gallstones after all and he had to undergo a second operation. Small town practitioners are not the only doctors who make mistakes.

There is an old Olympic Torch game in which each contestant started the race with a lighted torch in his hand, and the winner was not the one who arrived first at the goal, but he who reached the goal with his torch still burning brightly. The beauty and symmetry of this restriction as touching life is something for the reader to take to his own discerning heart. Today, as in that far-off time, the real winner is not the man who first arrives, whom the world so shallowly regards as first in the race, in terms of wealth, station, garish honors or other false standards of success.

Many a man has thus arrived apparently triumphant but with his torch extinguished in irremediable gloom; the torch of honor, the torch of service, the torch of good fellowship, the torch of domestic bliss or of parental joy, the torch of everything that makes life worthwhile.

Dr. Rainville established no noted clinic. He built no big hospital. He wrote no text book, founded no medical school. He chose in his youth to make his niche in life that of a country doctor. He began as a horse and buggy doctor. He served pioneer settlers in a prairie country, where there was great need for medical service. He went about in his own unpretentious, affable way giving the best medical service of which he was capable and which accommodations and conditions made possible. He answered the call by night as well as by day. Through darkness and storms, he went where he was wanted and needed. He never shirked in the performance of the responsible duties of his profession. It was not always possible to give patients the best treatment known to medical science. It was often a matter of simply doing the best that could be done with poor facilities and under adverse conditions. Often he found patients suffering from improper food, from living in poorly heated and drafty shacks. Ill from over-exertion, exposure to cold, lack of adequate sanitation and other conditions that nourished a bountiful crop of ills. He did his bit in out of the way places. He sought no vain glory, wanted no cheap notoriety and was given no trashy medals.

In our day as in the time of the old Olympic Torch race the true winner, the real winner, is he who presses earnestly, steadily to the goal, who safely guards the sacred flame.

Dr. Rainville held high to the end the torch of duty, the torch of service, the torch of professional ethics, the torch of true friendship, the torch of fidelity to those that were near and dear to him. The torch of joy in everything that enriches life. He was a good husband and father, a faithful friend and fine neighbor, and exemplary citizen, a competent public official and a trustworthy physician. God will someday measure success.

Divide County Journal, Crosby, North Dakota

Issue of May 10, 1946