Sometimes all we can ever know about a person is what we read in obituaries. Many leave little or no trace of their activities while alive except in a newspaper and in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved them. Time passes and so does memory fade and so it is that we love obituaries.
The Youngs, the Reames, the Waffles and all of Astoria Mourn Her Passing
Clara Wilhelmina Waffle died of a stroke in Astoria, Oregon at the age of 79. Her sister and daughters were at her bedside when she passed. According to the Astoria news, she was one of Astoria’s best known citizens. Among her accomplishments was her graduation from the University of Oregon Medical School in 1907. She graduated with only 3 other women out of a total of 36 graduates and was one of the first women doctors to practice in the State. Women were among the earliest graduates from Oregon's medical schools but not all women graduates went into practice. Clara was also one of Astoria’s first city health officers.
Born in San Francisco in 1874, she moved to Astoria with her parents, Ben and Christina, when she was only 1 year old. Her father was one of Astoria's pioneer salmon cannery operators. Clara was well brought up; she attended Miss Warren’s School for Young Ladies and later studied music abroad, spending two years in Sweden and two years in Leipzig, Germany.
When Clara returned from Europe, she married Dr. Frank Reames. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Klamath Falls, where poor Frank died just 16 months after they arrived. It was at that time that she decided to study medicine.
After graduating from UOMS, she returned to Astoria where she married Dr. Eldred B. Waffle in 1910. She and Eldred traveled throughout Europe doing post-graduate studies in Paris, Berlin and Vienna. When they returned to Astoria, they opened a joint practice. Having only been married 18 years, Eldred died leaving Clara to continue their practice until she retired in 1938.
She was active in community affairs and in addition to being the city health officer, she was an instructor in St. Mary’s Hospital Nursing School. She continued her interest in music, giving lectures throughout the State.
Clara left her two daughters, Josephine and Frances, four grandchildren, her brother Stanley and two sisters Caroline and Wilma and all of Astoria to mourn the passing of one of Oregon’s earliest women doctors.
If you are interested in women graduates, check out the Lucy I. Davis Phillips Collection on Oregon Women Medical School Graduates.