Clarence Toshach was born on November 8, 1894 in New York City. Toshach came from a modest home. His father had emigrated from Paisley, Scotland, where he had learned the trade of a carpenter. Among his jobs in New York, he worked on the Andrew Carnegie mansion which is now the Cooper Hewitt Museum. He also worked to unionize the carpenters.
After attending Morris High School, young Clarence graduated from the Medical School of New York University in 1917. America had entered World War I that year. Toshach joined the Army Medical Corps as a lieutenant and served in France with the 91st Division of the 61st Ambulance Company. There he became friends with two Red Cross volunteers, Saginaw’s Paul F. H. Morley and a young clergyman named John Schroeder.
After the Armistice, Toshach completed his residency at New York’s famous Bellevue Hospital and Morley and Schroeder persuaded him to come to Saginaw to set up his practice. Toshach met Charlotte Hassett when he was best man and she was maid of honor at Schroeder’s wedding in New York. Schroeder’s wife, Katherine, and Charlotte had been classmates at Wellesley College. Clarence and Charlotte danced all night and when he put her on the train the next morning, he asked her to marry him. She accepted and they were married six weeks later.
The three friends from France were reunited at Saginaw’s First Congregational Church where John Schroeder was the minister. Morley’s family were long-time members; he and his brothers and sister had presented the church with a magnificent Tiffany window in memory of their mother.
While he established his practice in Saginaw, Dr. Toshach was appointed as city health officer from 1921-22 and gave the first diphtheria antitoxin shot in Saginaw. Seeing a need for a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics, he decided to specialize in those fields. His office was located in the 300 block of S. Jefferson. Charlotte acted as his secretary and receptionist and even cleaned the offices.
Throughout his career, Dr. Toshach was closely associated with Saginaw General Hospital (now Covenant Harrison). He established the gynecology and obstetrics department there and was its chief for over 35 years. He started the hospital’s first prenatal clinic and its residency program in obstetrics and gynecology. His interest in premature births led him to establish the first unit for premature babies and to conduct prenatal mortality research. At the time, Saginaw had the highest rate of infant mortality in Michigan.
Dr. Toshach’s research was designed to drastically reduce the deaths of mothers and infants. His accomplishments were a primary reason Saginaw General became the leading obstetrics and gynecology hospital in the area. He also served as a consultant at St. Luke’s, St. Mary’s and the VA Hospital.
In the broader medical community, he was active in many organizations, including the Saginaw County Medical Society, and the Michigan State Medical Society where he was the secretary of the society’s OB/GYN section and chair of its subcommittee on infant mortality. He was also a member of the American Medical Society, the American College of Surgeons, of which he was a fellow and life member, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology which he served as president in 1946 and the Saginaw Surgical Society of which he was the first president in 1965.
Toshach was also president of the Saginaw YMCA, headed the medical society section of the United Way and was a trustee of First Congregational Church. He was a member of Rotary, several Masonic orders and the Torch Club. A portrait of him hangs in the Covenant lobby.
He and Charlotte had four children: Elizabeth Lawrence who died at birth, Charlotte Toshach Harter, Daniel Wilkes Toshach and Susan Toshach Macfarlan, and eleven grandchildren.
Dr. Toshach died on September 11, 1966.
A patient described him, “He was a real gentleman—a kind and very caring man with a wonderful sense of humor.”
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