This article first appeared April 1989 in the publication Mayovox.
(Editor’s Note: The following article is adapted from a speech delivered by Robert Fleming, chairman of the Department of Administration, at the annual Supervisors’ Dinner on March 7, 1989.)
Mayo Medical Center employees who use the Mayo patient record or the pneumatic tube system, or who work in the Plummer Building, all have one thing in common: their working lives are touched each day by the contributions of one brilliant man, Dr. Henry Plummer. With the exception of Drs. Will and Charlie Mayo no one has left as significant an imprint on Mayo Clinic as the unforgettable Dr. Plummer.
The son of a country physician, Dr. Plummer was born near Racine, Minnesota in 1874. Though as a child he was most interested in mechanical devices and wanted to pursue engineering, he yielded to his father’s desire and studied medicine instead. Following graduation from Northwestern, Dr. Plummer returned to join his father’s practice in Racine.
But Dr. Plummer’s interest in engineering never waned. For example, while practicing country medicine by horse and buggy, he devised a system of ropes extending from his house to the barn. A feeding device at the end of the ropes allowed him to tug on the rope so that his horse would be fed a ration of oats by the time he was ready to leave on house call.