By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN When Michael (Mike) Henry Loebertmann of Howard Lake was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Winsted May 3, 1960, he and his parents, the late Anthony and Louise Loebertmann, became instant celebrities.
As the first baby born in Winsted’s new, long-awaited, million dollar hospital one day after it had opened its doors, the entire town celebrated the new arrival.
Sister Assumpta, administrator of St. Mary’s Hospital at the time, told the Loebertmanns all of the expenses for Michael’s delivery were “on the house.”
In addition to the free hospital stay, a long list of gifts from Winsted businesses were given to congratulate the family.
Just reading through the list of donors is a nostalgic reminder that many years have past since Loebertmann’s birth day.
Just a few of the businesses “who so cheerfully donated” gifts for the new baby were Pure Milk Products, Citizens State Bank, Roufs Pharmacy, Farmers Creamery, Cy’s Barber Shop (for the baby’s first haircut), Bryan’s Service Station, Haekenkamp Greenhouse, Winsted Food Market, Paradis Market, and the Winsted Telephone Company.
A tip to the Herald Journal about Mike’s upcoming 50th birthday led to a scrapbook his mother had put together for future reference, documenting all of the excitement surrounding Mike’s birth.
“This is the first time I really went through all of this,” Mike said as he turned the pages of a silk-covered book “for baby” with all kinds of cards and newspaper clippings stuffed inside.
“I had seen it before, but never paid any attention,” Mike said. “She (Louise) saved everything.”
One of the newspaper clippings is a photo from the front page of the Winsted Journal showing Louise Loebertmann holding her new born son, Michael.
“She had that picture on her dresser for years,” Mike said.
Mike was the seventh of eight children born to the Loebertmanns. Included in his baby book were letters his sisters had written to their mother during her maternity stay at the hospital.
The letters included comments about how excited they were to have a new brother. They also included little snippets of some sibling rivalry going on at home while their mother was away, and an update on farming, which said the oats were 2 inches high.
The letters written to Louise by her children, addressed “Mommy Loebertmann,” might not have ever found her if they had been mailed to a larger hospital.
The care given to Louise and Mike during their hospital stay, must have been satisfactory because the Loebertmanns returned three years later to have their eighth child, Barbara, at St. Mary’s, as well.
Even before that, Mike had returned to St. Mary’s Hospital when he was about 15 months old with a broken hip.
“My sister (Fran) was carrying me across the yard, and she dropped me. She tripped over something,” Mike said. “I was in traction for four months.”
Mike’s stay at the hospital was for five days which cost his family $60. His x-rays were $22.50.
“You couldn’t even get in the front door for that now,” Mike said.
Mike lives on the 80-acre family farm where he grew up. It was not only his parents,’ but his grandparents’ farm, too.
He works at Millerbernd Manufacturing’s ring plant in Winsted.
When he is not trying to keep up with projects on the farm, he hunts, fishes, and likes to make wood, which he uses to heat his home. One of his latest projects is raising 100 chickens, which arrived March 29.
Anthony and Louise Loebertmann had eight children.
• Therese is married to Bernard Kral and they live in Springfield, MO.
• Monica is married to John Kral and they live in Barret, MN.
• Kenneth is married to Nancy and they live in Howard Lake
• Frances is married to Mike Luhman and they live in Howard Lake.
• Steven is married to Debbie and they live in Buffalo.
• Agnes is married to Paul Schmitz and they live in Maple Lake.
• And Barbara is the youngest. She is married to Mike Steffer and they live in Howard Lake.
St. Mary’s Hospital history
The idea to build a hospital in Winsted began at a Winsted Civic and Commerce meeting in 1956.
Soon after a committee had been appointed to look into a hospital, the objective became a hospital plus a senior care facility. It was one of the first institutions in the state to build a home for the aged and a hospital together.
The Benedictines of St. Paul’s Priory agreed Dec. 1, 1956, to operate the hospital and home if the Winsted community would back it financially.
In the summer of 1957, 13 acres of land were purchased from Martin Hertzog. Hertzog donated half of the value of the property.
St. Mary’s Hospital and Home opened, Monday, May 2, 1960.
The hospital was small, with only 25 acute and intensive care beds. There was an emergency operating room, a regular operating room, central sterilizing and supply room, x-ray and laboratory suites, doctors and nurses lounges, and an obstetrical suite.
It was announced in the Winsted Journal Oct. 30, 1989, “St. Mary’s hospital and emergency room will close Wednesday, Nov. 1, 1989.”
St. Mary’s senior executive officer at the time, Steve Bresnahan said the reasons leading up to the decision to close the hospital were financial, as well as the unavailability of doctors.
A total of 2,078 babies were born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Winsted before it closed.