Dr. W. A. Coventry was a prominent doctor who had a large impact on how babies were born in Duluth. An 1895 graduate of Duluth Central High School, he attended the University of Michigan medical college and returned to open an office at 20th Avenue West and Superior Street in 1901. He practiced general medicine, but in 1911 travelled to Vienna, Berlin and the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, to learn more about specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. He returned to Duluth and joined with other doctors to form an office affiliation, which became the Duluth Clinic in 1915. In 1919, he was hired by St. Mary’s Hospital and shared the Obstetrics Division with Dr. T. L. Chapman.
In 1922 Coventry wrote an article for the Minnesota Medicine Journal advocating the “Potter Version” in which the baby is manipulated by hand to be to be delivered feet first as a way to alleviate childbirth pain in the mother, tearing and the problematic use of forceps. In 1926, there were 24 such “version” deliveries at St. Mary’s Hospital, in a total of 670 births.
Dr. Coventry was not a rogue doctor with odd ideas. He was the Duluth Kiwanis Club president in 1923, an active Mason, and the 1927–1928 president of the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. He was also active in public safety and welfare issues, and sat on the Blue Shield insurance plan’s board of directors. He also later served as chief of sStaff at both St. Luke’s and St. Mary’s hospitals.
Amidst all this civic engagement and medical leadership, he found time to deliver over 5,200 babies during his career. Duluth’s Dr. E. L. Touhy had this to say about his colleague: “No one needing him was turned down; no social engagement or pleasure trip ever induced him to disappoint the prospective parturient who so willingly placed her life and trust in his hands.”
Dr. Coventry retired in 1951 and passed away in 1953. Two of his sons became doctors, one staying active in Duluth and one who moved to Rochester, MN and was associated with the Mayo Clinic. Neither son was involved with obstetrics.
— Gina Temple Rhodes for Zenith City Online, © 2014
Dr. William A. Coventry
William A. Coventry, M. D., an enterprising physician of Duluth, with an office in the New Jersey building, is a son of Albertus C. and Mary (Firman) Coventry, who were natives of Illinois and Michigan, respectively. In 1870 they moved to Brainerd, Minn., and in 1892 moved to Duluth, Minn., where Mr.Coventry followed the business of locomotive engineer until 1896. Mr. Coventry died in 1898 at the age of fifty-six years.
The doctor, William A., obtained his early education in the Brainerd (Minn.) public schools, and later, after removing with his parents to Duluth, he attended the high school there and graduated with the class of 1895. He entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1896, taking a medical course, and graduated in the class of 1900. He then returned to Brainerd, serving one year as interne in the N. P. hospital, then located in Duluth in 1901 and began the practice of medicine, where he has since continued successfully.
Dr. Coventry is a member of the following medical societies: Interurban Academy of Medicine, St. Louis County Medical Society, Minnesota State Medical Society, and American Medical Association.
In 1904 Dr. Coventry was united in marriage with Miss Louisa Bingham, daughter of William and Minnie (Schmitz) Bingham, of St. Cloud, Minn., on August 24. They have one son, William D., and one daughter, Mary L.