Dean, R. pf.jpg
Induction Category & YearProfessional 1993
Home TownWessington Springs, SD
Jerauld County, SD
Hope Cemetery Wessington Springs, SD

  5 Roscoe Dean
Champion of Excellence

 Dr. Roscoe Dean was born on his family's farm and attended country school followed by high school in Wessington Springs and USD at Vermillion, SD. Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie was his debate partner in college. After USD, he attended medical school at Temple University in Philadelphia. After medical school, he was accepted into the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for advanced training in surgery. He declined the offer as he would have had to choose a specialized field of surgery and he preferred to become a family physician.

Dr. Dean contracted pulmonary tuberculosis in 1945 while interning at Ancker Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota and returned home to recuperate. Thus began his career of serving the medical needs of the people of the Wessington Springs area.

Dr. Dean immediately recognized the need for more physicians in rural areas. Together him and Attorney General Frank Farrar began to work on the crisis. The Blue Ribbon Committee was organized to evaluate the Health Department to identify the basic problems that plagued it and find solutions to those problems. The Committee determined that if South Dakota's health care delivery system was to become proficient, the State Health Department must license nurse-physician assistants to fill the void. A larger budget for the medical school at USD was arranged and the training of the physician assistants was begun.

As this program began and it's problems addressed, Dr. Dean was there to keep the program alive with then Governor Farrar. Through the years funding continued to be a problem, but Dr. Dean and his colleagues continued to fight for the program, believing the rural doctors were a necessity in South Dakota and needed the support of the physician assistant.

Dr. Dean was a constant supporter of adequate rural health care. He realized that to entice doctors to come to rural areas and stay, they would need better medical facilities. Rural communities would have to build clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes, and purchase ambulances and communication equipment as the future of rural health care would hinge on ambulatory care.

Throughout his years of working to upgrade the rural health system, Dr Dean was also a family physician. His practice included thousands of patients and covered hundred of miles. Over the years he was bestowed with many honors including the Dr. C. F. Alford Award by the SD Medical Association, a service award from SD Blue Shield and the Distinguished Service Award from the Center for Western Studies at Augustana College. His proudest moment was when he was adopted as a member of the Crow Creek Indian Tribe for his medical care. John Saul, Oscar Howe, Vern Ashley and many others signed the adoption papers.

Dr. Dean was a serious collector of western art and artifacts. Many of these items were donated to the Center for Western Studies at Augustana College. Some of his collection was sold at auction and part of the proceeds went to the Center.

In 1990, as Dr. Dean was clearing out his office for his retirement, he realized that some of his still usable medical equipment might well be used in developing countries. He arranged for his x-ray machine and equipment to be sent to a missionary clinic in Africa. His former office building was donated to the city of Wessington Springs and was renamed the "Dean Annex". The Jerauld Historical Society has chosen to allocate rooms in honor of Dr. Dean and his many years of service to the community. One of his exam rooms was left as it was as a permanent reminder of rural medicine at its best.

Home Town (Wessington Springs, SD)
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