Melvin R. Laird to be Honored on First Anniversary of His Passing

MARSHFIELD – Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS) welcomes the public to join in honoring the life of the late Melvin R. Laird Nov. 16, the one-year anniversary of his passing, with a series of events and presentations in Marshfield.

Laird, a long-time Marshfield Clinic and medical research supporter, died Nov. 16, 2016, at his home in Florida at age 94.

“We are so very grateful for Mr. Laird’s service to the country, his advocacy of health care access and support for Marshfield Clinic,” said Dr. Susan Turney, MCHS CEO. “It’s important to remember his contributions, honor him and be inspired by what he accomplished.”

Laird grew up in Marshfield and at age 24 became the youngest state senator ever to be elected in Wisconsin, filling the seat held by his father who had died.

In 1952, he was elected to the 7th District of the U.S. Congress for the first of nine consecutive terms. Laird served as Secretary of Defense in the first administration of President Richard Nixon. In 1973, after completing his term as Secretary of Defense, he was asked to become President Nixon’s top Counselor for Domestic Affairs.

Not only was he involved in national health care but he continuously played a key role in furthering the mission of Marshfield Clinic, including helping secure medical research grants. He was a member of Marshfield Clinic’s National Advisory Council from its inception in 1982 and became an emeritus member in 1998.

In recognition of his contributions, MCHS is working with other community entities to highlight Laird’s life. Free events open to the public are:

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Melvin Laird’s Impact on Science, Health and Marshfield, Froehlke Auditorium. Keynote speaker is Frederick “Fritz” Wenzel, retired Marshfield Clinic Research Institute (MCRI) director; and a scientist panel will present. Emcee is Amit Acharya, Ph.D., MCRI director.

1:30-3:30 p.m. – Open house, Froehlke Auditorium, George E. Magnin Medical Library and Erdman Lobby, all located in the Laird Center for Medical Research, on MCHS’ Marshfield campus. Tours offered of Laird’s offices, photos and memorabilia; videos in the Auditorium featuring 1968’s “The Man From Marshfield” as well as a video interview with Laird about the historic Laird home on Cherry Avenue; and light refreshments.

3:30-4:30 p.m. – Remembering Melvin Laird program, Froehlke Auditorium. Presentation includes video greetings, letters and speakers including David Laird, Laird’s son. Wenzel will serve as emcee.

4:30-6:30 p.m. – Historic Laird family home open house, 208 S. Cherry Ave., Marshfield, hosted by the Laird Foundation for Historic Preservation.

7-9 p.m. – Concert at the University of Wisconsin Marshfield/Wood County Helen Connor Laird Fine Arts Building featuring the Pro Arte Quartet, the faculty string quartet at UW-Madison. The quartet performs throughout the United States, Europe and Asia; has performed at the White House; and is the resident ensemble of the Chazen Museum of Art, for whom they perform a series of live radio broadcasts each season. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. This concert is free and open to the public with general admission seating.