Doctor, Mother and Baby in Childbirth Case All Die
Dateline Louisville, Kentucky, Friday, November 3, 1944
Physician Falls Dead at Bedside of Woman
A childbirth case ended in a triple tragedy here yesterday. While attending 36-year-old Bessie Ford, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Woolery, age 64, of 815 Cecil Avenue, a general practitioner here for thirty-five years, was stricken by a heart attack and found slumped over the woman’s body at 2:30 pm at her home at 3130 New High St. She was under general anesthesia at the time. She died a few minutes after her ninth child was born dead.
Neighbors Were There!
The mother, Mrs. Bessie Ford, died at 8:10 pm at St. Joseph Infirmary, where she was taken after Dr. Woolery’s death.
Jess Ford, Bessie’s husband, was an employee of Armour Creameries here in Louisville. He said Dr. Woolery had been attending his wife since 1:00 pm. His wife was under the influence of anesthetic and knew nothing of the physician’s death until effects of the anesthesia wore off, he said. He and several neighbor women were in the room at the time.
Husband Calls Police!
“After the doctor died, I was running around so much I don’t know just what I did,” Ford said later at the hospital. He explained that he rushed to a nearby grocery store and telephoned in quick succession City police, General Hospital, St. Joseph Infirmary, and the Ambulance Service Company in an effort to obtain proper medical treatment for his wife.
Making the run to the Ford home in four minutes, ambulance driver William Rakestraw, formerly with the Police Emergency Squad, had Mrs. Ford at the hospital within less than an hour after the physician’s death.
A score of children, including some of the Ford family, crowded around the small frame cottage, and in the dusty dirt road near the doorway as police cars and the ambulance jolted up the drive way to the Ford home.
Native of Indiana
Dr. Woolery, a native of Bedford Indiana, was a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Medicine and worked as a medical examiner at the Goodyear Engineering Corporation, Charlestown, Indiana.
Met Son at Station
Mrs. Emma Woolery said her husband was called to the Ford home immediately after he had met his son at the station, Musician 2nd Class Ernest Woolery, 27, US Coast Guard, who was home on furlough.
He is also survived by two other sons, Private Orville Woolery, and Carrol C. Woolery; a sister, Mrs. Alice Forbe, of Mitchell, Indiana; a brother, Marshall Woolery of Bedford, Indiana, and six grandchildren.
Funeral services for Dr. Woolery will be held at Lee Cralle’s, 1330 S. Third Street.
In Other News of the Day
Bus driver kills wife and self in Richmond, Kentucky. He shot her then turned the gun on himself. She filed for divorce and was planning on moving out of the house today. Man, 70, robbed and burned in a cabin in Beattyville, Kentucky. Fire destroys hotel in Morehead. James Park, Republican nominee for the US Senate, warned of disunity is Roosevelt is reelected. Three negro women attack a City police officer in an incident at a local factory in Portland. Instigator fined.
News from Around the World
Auschwitz begins gassing inmates. Roosevelt re-elected November 7, 1944. US bombers on Saipan begin first attack on Tokyo November 24, 1944. First open-heart surgery performed November 29, 1944 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Battle of the Bulge rages on. Nazis surrender February – May 1945. Japan surrenders June – September 1945.
That is all. Goodnight and good luck!
Note: This is a true story based on an article from the Louisville Courier Journal published November 3, 1944. Dr. Benjamin Franklin Woolery was my Great Grandfather and namesake.
4 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Dr. Benjamin Franklin Woolery”
Hmm this is odd, and incredibly tragic. It’s a bit confusing, had to re-read it a few times. “His wife was under the influence of anesthetic and knew nothing of the physician’s death until effects of the anesthesia wore off” – so he died, she woke up and the husband/ambulance got her to the hospital, the baby was delivered sadly dead, and she must have died a few minutes later? That’s heartbreaking.
Yeah that’s the story. Yes it is sad, heartbreaking and tragic.
This just amazed me. Thought I was reading a newspaper article about the death of doctor, mother, etc. Then, reading the other news from around the world was so interesting. WHen you said it was the man you were named for….well, this could be expanded into a book.
Then again, there are enough great books out there and limited time left in life.
Maybe it is just right as it stands.
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Thanks for your comments, Lynne!