From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
Dr. G. Ralph Combs, a well-known Leavenworth physician who practiced medicine in the city for more than 65 years, has outlived his insurance company's mortality table on a life insurance policy he took out in 1913. As of his 96th birthday which Dr. Combs celebrated Jan. 3 by having, as he put it, "a couple highballs," he beat the 100,000-to-three odds of outliving his insurance. He is able to withdraw all the money now, but he has decided to leave it with the company to draw more interest for his beneficiaries.
Dr. Combx, who was one of the last doctors in the city to make house calls while practicing in his 80x, and his wife, Helen, live at the Cushing Memorial Hospital Pavillion. Confined to a wheelchair since an automobile accident more than two years ago, Dr. Combs' life of service is intermingled with the history of a growing Leavenworth.
Born at 108 S. Explanade, Dr. Combs' father, George W. Combs, came to Leavenworth with the doctors grandfather. William J. Combs, in 1858 from Hartford, Conn.
Dr. Combs' grandfather was a butcher by trade and in Leavenworth his first establihment was a small shop on Cherokee. He soon enlarged his business by establishing himself on the levee where he supplied meats and ice to steamboats operating on the Missouri River. He was the first to store ice in Leavenworth with his business at Third and Choctaw.
Dr. Combs' father started his career in Leavenworth as a pattern maker for the Great Western Manufacturing Company and is credited with the invention of many devices used in the milling business and other industries that are still made at the present day plant. Dr. Combs' mother, the former Nellie S. Cook, was a seamstress in Leavenworth.
Dr. Combs began school in Leavenworth at the old Third Avenue School and he graduated from Leavenworth High School in 1897. He went off to the University of Minnesota where he studied chemistry, history and some of the arts. Completing his course at Minnesota, he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania medical school from which he graduated in 1902. He took his internship at the German Hospital in Philadelphia and at the Kensington Hospital for Women.