Making up to ten farm calls a day, Dr. Jerome C. Speltz in his mobile veterinary clinic was a common sight on the country roads crisscrossing an area within a 30-mile radius of his home, Winona, Minnesota. For more than 45 years, “Doc” Speltz, a sole veterinary practitioner, took care of the medical needs of both large and small animals.
His greeting in English, Luxembourg, Polish, or German, depending upon the ethnicity of the farm family, spoke of how much he cared, as did his quick response to the many emergency calls that came in the middle of the night. In the late afternoons, he focused on his small animal practice, often making house calls for the pets of shut-ins.
Dr. Speltz, who retired from his veterinary medical practice in 1992, died on Oct. 26 at Charter House, in Rochester, Minnesota. He was 96 years old.
A native of Rollingstone, Minnesota, one of America’s largest Luxembourger settlements, Dr. Speltz graduated from Holy Trinity High School, Rollingstone, and completed his pre-veterinary studies at St. Mary’s College in Winona. He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Iowa State University in 1941, and together with his wife Laurine (Schneider) Speltz, whom he married in 1947, opened Speltz Animal Hospital in Winona that same year.
Intrigued by innovation, Dr. Speltz was the ﬁrst in his ﬁeld in southeastern Minnesota to customize his veterinary truck with refrigeration and running water, and to adopt a two-way radio system for communication between home, truck, and hospital.
Dr. Speltz was an equally avid preservationist. He and his wife purchased three contiguous buildings near the foot of Center Street in Winona in 1956, and restored the century-old structures in the mid-1970s and early 80s, creating several commercial spaces and apartments. Proceeds from the sale of the buildings were given to Iowa State University to establish the Jerome and Laurine Speltz Scholarship for second-year veterinary students.
Dr. Speltz worked with the Minnesota Land Trust to preserve and protect 80 acres of Rollingstone farmland, and was instrumental in the restoration of the Holy Trinity Church in Rollingstone in the 1990s.
An enthusiastic student of his Luxembourg heritage, Dr. Speltz was a member of the Rollingstone Luxembourg American Society and the Luxembourg Heritage Museum of Rollingstone since their inception.
Retirement for Dr. Speltz was enriched by his many volunteer activities, which included delivering meals and serving on the board of directors for Winona Volunteer Services, sitting on the boards of the Winona Library and the Winona Chapter of the American Red Cross, and serving as a member of the Winona Planning Commission. During his tenure on the Commission the Winona City Council passed a historic preservation ordinance, to prevent the further loss of architectural gems such as the old Winona Post Office. For his work in promoting this ordinance, as well as his restoration of the buildings on Center Street, Dr. Speltz received a Winona Historic Preservation Award from the Winona Historic Preservation Commission. For many summers, the corner of Second and Center Streets was beautiﬁed by the lush window boxes and hanging baskets that Dr. Speltz lovingly tended, after planting them with ﬂowers that he grew himself from seed.
A gifted baseball player in his youth, Dr. Speltz was a natural athlete who found time to enjoy golf in his retirement. During his ﬁnal years he perfected his pool game, participating in tournaments at Charter House, in Rochester, and taking home more than one trophy over the years that he lived there, including one as recently as October 2011.
Although Dr. Speltz was a quiet man, he was strong in his actions and truly lived his life consistent with his principles of faith, love of family, education, and hard work. Above all, he took great pride in the family he and his wife created, and strove, through his example, to teach his eight children how to live a principled life.
In addition to his wife and life partner Laurine, survivors include: daughters: Laurine Speltz (Denis Ryono), Ann Speltz (Stephen Fedo) and Paula Roe (Roger Roe); sons Jerome (Lisa Winkelmann Speltz), Louis (Vicki Bailey), Joseph (Deann Gehlhaart Speltz), John (Ellen Fuchsel Speltz), and Michael; and nine grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held on Saturay, November 3, at Holy Trinity Church in Rollingstone, (83 Main St.), with viewing to start at 10:00 .m.and a funeral Mass at 11:00 a.m.. In lieu of ﬂowers, memorial donations may be made to Holy Trinity Church, 83 Main Street, Rollingstone, Minn. 55969.
Please share a memory of Dr. Speltz at his on-line guestbook at www.hofffuneral.com. Hoff Funeral Service of Goodview is assisting the family with arrangements.