In 1951, Dr. Jane Gumprecht got her first look at Lake City General Hospital in downtown Coeur d’Alene. She would never forget it. The size of the place shocked her. Even for a small-town hospital, it was tiny. Just 30 beds.
“The x-ray room on the first floor was also the ’emergency’ room,” Dr. Jane recalled years later. “Patients were examined right on the x-ray table. An outpatient/minor surgery was on the second floor, and personnel could walk from there directly into the operating room, which stretched across the front of the building. The labor and delivery rooms were in the basement.”
Jane Gumprecht and her doctor-husband, Don, would have been particularly interested in the delivery rooms. The Gumprechts were new in Coeur d’Alene and, like UPS, they were in the delivery business. Before they retired in the late 1980s, they would deliver more than 4,000 babies. (They knew they’d been at it a while, Dr. Jane said, when they “started delivering children from girls we’d delivered.”)
The Gumprechts were among many energetic community leaders who worked years to help Coeur d’Alene get a hospital better suited to its needs than the appallingly inadequate Lake City General. In 1965, after a successful bond election, work began on Kootenai Memorial Hospital, the predecessor to today’s Kootenai Medical Center. Dr. Jane was the first physician to serve as a trustee of the new hospital. And she was chair of the building committee.
Dr. Jane had a way of leaving a trail of achievements in her train. She had been class valedictorian in high school and had been graduated with honors from Montana State College (now Montana State University). In 1981 she was named Idaho Mother of the Year.
She and Dr. Don were both born in Montana in 1922, he in Helena, she in Lewistown. They married in 1944 while attending the University of Minnesota Medical School. Don volunteered for active duty during the Korean War and became head of obstetrics at Fairchild Air Force Base. Jane worked at the base as a pediatrician. Next thing they knew, they had discovered Coeur d’Alene–and had discovered that they loved it. They wound up buying a place in the Fort Grounds. More than a half century later, they were still there.
When they moved to Coeur d’Alene, Dr. Jane was one of only two female physicians practicing anywhere in Idaho north of Boise. “I was considered an oddity,” she saID The first time she walked into the old Lake City General, she got challenged by a nurse. “I had to convince her I was a doctor,” Jane saID
The Gumprechts raised three sons, all of whom became doctors, and a daughter who became a music teacher. There would also be a dozen grandchildren (one of whom also became a doctor).
One reason Dr. Don loved the area was that he was an avid outdoorsman. He often went fishing, sometimes weekly, on Lake Pend Oreille. The family home was decorated with some of his trophies, including the rack of a large moose taken in Canada, a mount from a Montana elk and a 30-pound kamloops trout.
Dr. Don is a former president and secretary of the Kootenai County Medical Society and was once chief of staff at Kootenai Memorial.
He and Dr. Jane were co-founders of Coeur d’Alene Bible Church, where he served as deacon for eight years. When they retired, they donated their downtown office to Youth for Christ.
The Gumprechts are champions of traditional Christian living. Dr. Jane’s values are reflected in a “Philosophy of Parenting” that includes these points:
In 2004, the Gumprechts were invited to be grand marshals of an “American Heroes” Fourth of July Parade in Coeur d’Alene. They expressed surprise at the invitation, but Dona Miller of First Bank, the main sponsor of the event, said the choice was easy. “Just about every local knew them or went to them,” said Miller. “They’ve done a lot for the community, and are just great people.”