UNMC History 101: This stork delivered holiday cheer (and babies)

by John Schleicher, McGoogan Library of Medicine | December 10, 2013

Everyone knows that the stork delivers newborn babies -- but for many years in Omaha, that "stork" was Leon S. McGoogan, M.D. (1900-1993), namesake of the McGoogan Library of Medicine at UNMC; whose personalized Nebraska license plates were emblazoned with the word "Stork."

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Leon McGoogan, M.D., displays his holiday artwork. One of Dr. McGoogan's decorative Christmas trees.
By his own estimate, McGoogan delivered 9,000 babies from 1930, when he started practice in Omaha, until his retirement. During World War II, as one of only five obstetricians in the city, he delivered an average of 50 to 60 babies a month at Immanuel Hospital where his practice was located. He served as chair of the UNMC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1950 to 1955 and from 1961 to 1962; he was an instructor in the department for nearly 60 years.

While busy delivering babies, teaching medical students and volunteering for numerous civic organizations, Dr. McGoogan occupied some of his free time by creating beautiful holiday decorations for Immanuel.

An article in the Immanuel Medical Center "Banner" newsletter from December 1977 ("Christmas at Immanuel-Warm, Friendly, Traditional") provides background on his creations:

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Another creation by Dr. McGoogan
"The jeweled Christmas trees made by Leon S. McGoogan, M.D., of the medical staff, are another tradition and are placed in the main lobby and on patient floors . . . Dr. McGoogan . . . has made Christmas decorations and jewelry trees for Immanuel for many years."

The article goes on to solicit "colorful costume jewelry pieces" from readers for new creations, and notes he "has a special project in mind for Christmas 1978."

For Dr. McGoogan's service to the library of medicine at UNMC, the library was named in his honor in 1978. Two of his beautiful holiday creations are among his papers and other memorabilia in the library's special collections.

The jeweled trees are on display on the 8th floor of the library during the month of December. The smaller tree (15 by 20 inches) features Dr. McGoogan's initials -- LSM -- in the lower right corner and a multi-colored bejeweled tree topper. The larger tree (20 by 24 inches) has a falling "snowflake" of rhinestones at the bottom and a gold Prussian cross tree topper.

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