Dr. George F. Pratt, age 92, died Nov. 16, 2016 in Rhinelander. George was born Nov. 4, 1924 in Bloomington, Ill. to Horace and Clara Pratt. One of his favorite childhood experiences was attending Camp Highlands in Sayner and it was there that he developed a love of the Northwoods that would significantly shape his life. In 1946, while a Harvard medical student, he returned to work at Camp Highlands as a counselor and met his future wife, Barbara C. Cody, who was working in the office as a bookkeeper for her grandfather, Dr. William J. Monilaw, owner and director of the camp. They were married in Boston Feb. 6, 1948.
George’s physician training brought him and his family across the country and around the world. He enrolled in Stanford University in 1942 and began Medical School at Harvard in 1944. Following marriage and graduation, he undertook surgical residencies in Boston and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Shortly after the birth of his first child Larry, in September 1952, he was called to active duty in the Army. Following a short training in San Antonio, Tex., he was sent to Korea and served in an infantry division and then the 44th MASH unit until the end of the war in the summer of 1953. He was then transferred to Japan, where Barbara and Larry joined him. The 1970 movie MASH was a favorite of his, and one of the few that he watched more than once.
In the summer of 1954, George and his family returned to the U.S. and were stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, and it was here that his daughter Linda was born. In early 1955 the family returned to Rochester, where George finished his surgical residency. They then began a search for a place to settle in northern Wisconsin, the site of happy memories. In 1955, George accepted a position as a general surgeon at the Warner S. Bump Medical Group in Rhinelander. He often told his children that during the journey to Rhinelander on Highway 17, he stopped at nightfall, observing the desolate surroundings, and questioning the sanity of the move north.
The Pratt’s third child Andrew was born in 1958; soon after, the family built a house on the shores of Boom Lake on the site of an old lumber mill, and spent the next six decades there. He and his family spent much of their free time canoeing, sailing, hiking and exploring in northern Wisconsin. George’s medical practice during the early years was not easy, as the town suffered from a shortage of physicians. He and Dr. George Thuerer split nightly on-call responsibilities, and were frequently woken in the middle of the night to attend to emergencies. However, the move to Rhinelander worked out, and George retired in 1990 after a 32-year career.
George will be remembered by his family as a dedicated husband, father, surgeon, outdoor enthusiast and active environmentalist. He loved living in northern Wisconsin and brought joy to those around him by taking them to his favorite rivers, lakes and trails. He will be thought of each time we smell the smoke of a campfire or put paddle to water. Others may remember the lives that he saved and enriched as a local physician in Rhinelander, his love of tennis and books, his paintings and photographs, and his thoughtfulness. His satirical cartoons were published in the Rhinelander Daily News. His spirit will be felt on the waters of the beautiful lakes he sought out and journeyed across, perhaps none more so than Plum Lake, the home of Camp Highlands.
In addition to Barbara, his wife of 68 years, he is survived by children Larry, Linda and Andrew, his daughter-in-law Mindy Hall, son-in-law Gabe Del Virginia, and grandchildren Madeleine and Ian Pratt.
For those who wish to honor Dr. Pratt, the family suggests contributions in his memory be made to either the St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation or the Nicolet College Foundation.