Biography of Walter C. G. Kirchner, M. D.

Washington University is the alma mater of many of the ablest physicians and surgeons of St. Louis, men who have enjoyed the thorough training of that school and in their profession have won advancement by reason of their thorough ability and skill. In the field of surgery Dr. Walter C. G. Kirchner is well known and Missouri is therefore proud to number him among her native sons. He was born in St. Charles, July 14, 1875, and is a son of Dr. Henry A. Kirchner, who was a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and was of German descent, the grandfather being Dr. Henry C. A. Kirchner, who became the founder of the American branch of the family. He was not only a physician and surgeon but was also a graduate in chemistry and pharmacy and was one of the founders of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Later he completed his medical course in the old St. Louis Medical College and here resided to the time of his death, actively engaged in practice for many years, passing away in 1902, at the advanced age of eighty-seven. His son, Dr. Henry A. Kirchner, was reared and educated in St. Louis and was graduated from the St. Louis Medical College, after which he devoted his time to professional duties until death ended his labors. He began practice in St. Charles, where he remained until 1881 and then returned to St. Louis, where he successfully followed his profession throughout his remaining days. He was born in 1850 and had therefore attained the age of sixty-one years when called to his final rest in 1911. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Caroline Schneider, was born in St. Louis, a daughter of F. A. H. Schneider, who was of German birth and came to this city in 1849. He had been condemned to death in Germany because of his writings and attitude against German political measures then in vogue and in support of the principles of freedom and democracy. Accordingly he had to flee from his native country and sought a haven in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” He was an editor, devoting his attention to journal-ism, and was also the author of French and German works dealing largely with government reforms. His daughter, Mrs. Kirchner, was reared and educated in St. Louis, where she still makes her home. By her marriage she became the mother of two children, the younger being Elida, the wife of Hon. Hugo Muench, one of the leading jurists of St. Louis.

The son, Dr. Walter C. G. Kirchner, after completing a course in the Central high school of St. Louis, attended Washington University, from which he was graduated A. B. in 1897. He then took up the study of medicine, pursuing a four years’ course and winning his AT. D. degree in 1901. Following his graduation he served for one year as junior interne in the City Hospital and for one year as senior interne, and when Dr. John Young Brown became superintendent of the hospital Dr. Kirchner was made assistant superintendent, continuing to fill that position for four years. He was then appointed by Mayor Rolla Wells as superintendent and surgeon in charge and continued to act in that capacity for three years or until 1910, when a new charter changed the mode of appointments. During Dr. Kirchner’s term the hospital was much improved and placed upon a modern basis. He had traveled and visited the principal hospitals throughout the United States and as a result was instrumental in bringing about many reforms and improvements in the institution. He also initiated a regular visiting staff, a course not previously followed.

After severing his public professional connections Dr. Kirchner traveled abroad, circles, belonging to the Scottish Rite bodies, to the Alhambra Grotto and to Moolah Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He is also a member of the Riverview Club and City Club and is connected with the National League of Commission Men and the International Apple Shippers Association. He is also identified with the St. Louis Butter & Egg Exchange and is thus active in organizations which are continually studying to improve trade conditions and promote business enterprise. He belongs to the Chamber of Commerce and is a participant in many of the organized movements of that body for the upbuilding of the city and the advancement of its civic standards. His religious faith is manifest in his connection with the Independent Evangelical Protestant church. In his relation to others he largely follows the policy and example of his father, who was a very charitable man and was a member of the board of relief of the Masonic order visiting and studying in the principal surgical centers of Italy, France, Austria, Germany and England. He thus acquainted himself with the advanced methods followed by leading physicians and surgeons of London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Rome. He spent one year abroad, engaged in study and research work, and then returned to St. Louis, where he entered upon private practice as a surgeon, in which branch of the profession he has since been engaged. In 1911 he became a member of the visiting staff in surgery of the St. Louis City Hospital and has served in that connection through the intervening years. He is also on the consulting staff of St. John’s Hospital and is connected with the Washington University Unit at the City Hospital in surgery. His name is widely known throughout the country by reason of his contributions to leading medical journals and he is the author of a work entitled “Acute Abdominal Surgery,” soon to be published. His professional membership relations are many, for he is identified with the St. Louis Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the Association of Surgeons of St. Louis, and is a fellow of the following national societies: the Southern Surgical & Gynecological Society, the American College of Surgeons, the American Association of Obstetricians, Gynecologists & Abdominal Surgeons and is an ex-president of the City Hospital Alumni Association.

Dr. Kirchner’s professional ability enabled him to render valuable service to his country during the World war. He was on duty with the American Expeditionary Force in France from February, 1918, until August 8, 1919, and was honorably discharged at that date with the rank of major. He had previously served as vice president and member of the St. Louis Officers Medical Reserve Corps, U. S. A. In addition to all of his other professional activities Dr. Kirchner served as assistant bacteriologist of the health department of St. Louis from 1899 until 1901 and was instructor in bacteriology in the medical department of the Washington University in 1903.

On the 15th of September, 1915, Dr. Kirchner was married in Ravinia, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, to Miss Margery Scheel Rosing, a native of that state and a daughter of Ulric and Anna Rosing.

Politically Dr. Kirchner maintains an independent course. His appreciation of the social amenities of life is indicated in his membership in the University and City Clubs. Always a resident of Missouri, he is well known in the state and has gained professional prominence and distinction. “To the manner born,” both his father and grandfather having been physicians, he has so directed his efforts as to keep in touch with the advanced thought and scientific methods of the profession and guided by high purposes has made for himself a creditable name and place as a physician and surgeon of St. Louis.


Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (The Center State) One Hundred Years In The Union 1820-1921 Vol 6. St. Louis-Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1921.

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