MARSHALL – Dr. Wayne Taintor doesn’t let a little thing like age stop him from volunteering his time.
The 90-year-old – Taintor celebrated his 90th birthday on Feb. 8 – retired from practicing medicine in 1986 but has continued to stay very active in the community.
“If I were to just sit home all the time and look at the four walls, it would drive me crazy,” Taintor said. “How much of value is on the tube? So much of it is crap. So if I can be of service to someone else, why not?”
Taintor grew up Park River, N.D., and following his service in the United States Army during World War II, Taintor went on to study at the University of North Dakota, North Dakota School of Medicine and the University of Louisville in Kentucky, graduating in 1952.
From 1952-53, he spent his internship in St. Paul, at the Ancker Hospital (now called Regions Hospital). After practicing in Louisville and then New York City, Taintor and his wife, Berget, whom he married in 1950, had to make a decision on where they wanted to live.
“We wanted to live in a community that was not too large and one that had a school system we were comfortable with,” Taintor said. “We had a happy year in Minnesota, so we started looking around that area. We checked out a lot of communities and decided to move to Marshall. And they haven’t run me out of town yet.”
Taintor joined Drs. Joseph Murphy and Phillip Hedenstrom in Marshall in 1957 and worked in the community until his retirement, priding himself on providing a quality service to individuals.
“I came with training as a general surgeon but ended up being more of a general practitioner,” Taintor said. “I cross-country skied to the hospital to work one time and to make a house call once, too. I made a house call on my last day of work in 1986.”
In the early days of medicine, Taintor recalls that house calls were normal and very routine.
“We always made house calls,” he said. “And all of us old-timers, I think without exception, tried to do what we could for our patients.”
While Taintor enjoyed practicing medicine over the years, he also took time to join organizations and volunteer time in the community. The Taintors also raised four children – Mark, Paul, Susan and Tom – and celebrated 62 years of marriage before Berget died on Nov. 19, 2012.
Since 1958, Taintor has been a member of the Noon Rotary Club in Marshall. Shortly after that, Taintor began volunteering at Minnesota Boys State functions, having experienced the high-quality program as a North Dakota Boys State participant in 1939.
When his three sons were in Boys Scouts, Taintor was also quick to volunteer.
“When my boys were growing up, they got involved in Boys Scouts,” Taintor said. “I figured the best way to help my own children was to take charge and get involved as a Scout leader with these boys.”
In 1971, Taintor was among those who traveled to Japan for the 13th World Boy Scouts Jamboree.
“That was a wonderful experience,” he said.
Taintor is well-known at the local nursing home as well, having cared for his ailing father and other residents throughout the years.
“My dad had prostate cancer, and so did my grandpa and great-grandpa,” said Taintor, who is a four-year cancer survivor himself. “My dad was 88 when he died.”
Along with nursing home director Cathy Bond and Weiner Memorial Medical Center nurse Sue Jackson, Taintor was instrumental in founding Prairie Home Hospice more than 30 years ago.
“The two nurses knew I’d taken care of my father in the nursing home, so they came to me and we basically started hospice back then,” Taintor said.
When his wife Berget broke her hip and became a resident of Avera Morningside Heights Care Center in 2010, Taintor offered his unwavering support once again.
“When she broke her hip, I had to jump through the hoops, so I could be an ‘official’ volunteer,” he said. “I wanted to keep her as active as possible, so I’d take her to devotions on Tuesdays and to sing-a-longs on Thursdays. She has always loved to gather around the piano and sing songs. And even at the end, she always seemed to have a songbook in her hands.”
In addition to his wife, Taintor said he also helped wheel other patients to and from activities.
“At first, we played Scrabble,” he said. “And when she couldn’t even chew her food anymore, I’d hand-feed her the pureed stuff.
“Then on the last day of her life, all the kids and I sang hymns to her to say good-bye. She went peacefully, listening to us sing along with the guitar, which I’m so thankful for.”
Taintor continues to volunteer at the nursing home, developing human connections with anyone in need.
“Since my wife died, I’ve continued to go over to the nursing home in the evening as well,” Taintor said. “If someone wants me to play bingo with them, I’ll play bingo with them. Other times, I’ll play cards with someone or just hold their hand.”
The smile he often gets from people is enough of a reward for his efforts, Taintor said.
“There’s no harm in that,” he said.
Taintor has volunteered time at the Lyon County Museum throughout the years and has put in more than 20 years of dedicated service at the Southwest Minnesota History Center at Southwest Minnesota State University.
“He’s an awesome volunteer,” said Jan Louwagie, coordinator of the Southwest Minnesota History Center. “He’s always there when you need him. And he always has a smile on his face and is so patient with people.”
Louwagie calls Taintor a “microfilm expert,” noting that he checks countless obituaries for people who want to look up their history.
“I enjoy it,” Taintor said.
During a six-year period, Taintor also compiled information that led to the publication of “History of Medical Care in Lyon County,” which included a summary of past, present and future thoughts on the medical profession.
“There’s published copies at the Lyon County Museum and Marshall-Lyon County Library,” he said.
According to Taintor, the years have been good to him. He looks forward to spending time with his 13 grandchildren – 12 grandsons and one granddaughter – all of whom he’s proud of.
“I’m even blessed to have one grandson who is a pediatrician serving Eskimos in Juneau, Alaska,” Taintor said. “He’s engaged to a family practitioner, and his kid brother is a nurse.”
Currently a member of eight medicine-associated organizations as well, Taintor shows few signs of slowing down anytime soon. When asked how long he planned on volunteering, he had a quick reply.
“As long as I’m able,” Taintor said.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of small towns that might only have a few full-time paid employees.
After Eugene Short retired from his job in heating, refrigeration and air conditioning sales, he moved to a new position in Currie in 2009. He retired just a few years later but hasn’t slowed down a bit.
“I was a county commissioner in Redwood County for 16 years,” Short said. “After I retired, I was asked by the Murray County Commission if I’d be interested in applying for a position with the End-O-Line Railroad Park.”
Short had previous experience with railroads as an elected member of the commission that ran the railroad line that runs from Hanley Falls to Norwood-Young America.
Though Short retired from running the End-O-Line Park in 2011, he keeps active as a volunteer.
“They have paid staff but not enough,” Short said. “They need volunteers for yard maintenance and tour guides.”
That goes for the city itself. Short is involved with RSVP, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, volunteers at the Slayton food shelf and serves on the Currie City Council.
But Short doesn’t regard the city council seat as a supervisory position. When there’s city buildings that need to be retrofitted, repaired or painted, he’s one of the ones doing it.
“We got the maintenance shop repaired,” Short said. “It was in dire straits and needed work.”
Other than that, Short does odd jobs such as mowing, flagpole repair and tree branch work.
There’s a lot of cottonwood trees around End-O-Line, and every time there’s a wind storm, you can find Short and other seniors out picking up the fallen tree branches.
And when that’s not enough to fill his time, the annual Fourth of July picnic is a pretty big event and always in need of volunteers.
“I think it gives you a feeling of self-worth,” Short said, “being able to contribute to your community’s and others’ well-being.”