Celebrating the life of Dr. Donald Strutt

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This recent picture shows Don sitting on his houseboat on the Mississippi. He spent a large part of his life on the river with family.

Dr. Don sits behind the desk in the early years of Strutt Chiropractic. He and wife Joanne moved to McGregor at the age of 21 to set up a practice.

This week, we celebrate the life of Dr. Donald Frost Strutt, who moved to McGregor as a young newlywed, not knowing the huge impact he would leave on this little river town.

Don was always a hard worker. When his father died, he was only 10 years old. Feeling a responsibility to his mother and siblings, Donald went to work at a young age.

He met the love of his life, Joanne,while attending high school in Dodgeville, Wis. They married just after graduating and eventually made their home together in Davenport, while Don attended Palmer Chiropractic College. A year after graduating college, at the age of 21, Don and Jo decided to make McGregor their home. They moved to town and set up a practice.

Don loved his work and, in the early years, spent nearly every waking hour building his chiropractic practice. Officially, he worked six days a week to start his career, but that included Saturday nights until one or two o’clock Sunday morning as the farmers finished their work week. Many Sundays, as he walked home from the McGregor United Methodist Church, the curb around his office was lined with patients waiting to see him without appointment. His planned sleeping hours were often spent making house calls in the middle of the night, often being paid with chickens or a bushel of apples.

Joanne was immediately recruited to be the choir director at the McGregor United Methodist Church, a position she held for 60 years. Of course, Don “volunteered” to be a member of her choir. He was involved in many community groups, such as the Jaycees, Masonic Lodge, McGregor Hospital Board, Eastern Star and offices for the McGregor United Methodist Church. Don was also a Rainbow Dad for his daughter, Darci.

Don was appointed to the city council in October 1956. One of his first missions was to establish official addresses for all McGregor properties.

Don served as mayor of McGregor for four years, during which he was an advocate for building the current library. The Strutts were all avid readers and having a library across the street from their home was a bonus.

In 1961, Don was elected president of the Northeast Iowa Chiropractic Society and later served as president of the Iowa Chiropractic Society and of the Iowa Society of Chiropractic Orthopedists.

In 1963, Don bought and ran the North Iowa Times—Iowa’s third oldest established newspaper—to keep it from going out of business. Their children all had jobs as bookkeeper, reporter, typesetter, advertising sales, sports writer and columnist. Don and Jo took the pictures, wrote the stories and had a column called “Thinking Out Loud.” The Strutt family ran it for 10 years, growing it from a four-page newspaper to 12 to 16 pages weekly.

Continuing their commitment to McGregor, Don was once again appointed to the city council in 1966 and was on the light plant board from 1968 to 1970. He was also elected commodore of the McGregor Upper Mississippi Yacht and Boat Club in 1969.

Doc was an instrument-rated (IFR) pilot and traveled the Midwest, often bringing dignitaries back to McGregor for meetings and events. He shared his love of flying with his wife, who also became an IFR pilot.

Don and Jo instilled a work ethic in their family. The boys were instrumental in putting the second floor on at Strutt Chiropractic, which was used to house Strutco Supplies, a chiropractic supply company.

Strutt Chiropractic was truly a family business: Joanne worked the front desk, daughter Darci was a chiropractic assistant and anyone who worked in the office was considered family. Don’s son, Dr. Craig, joined the practice in April 1980 and grandson-in-law, Dr. Jonathon Moser, joined in January 2011. Don retired at age 79, the day Dr. Moser got his license.

Don spent a large part of his life boating with family. His early free time was spent on sandbars, often hosting extended family and friends. They would also often drop anchor in Gerndt Lake or cruise the river and its sloughs. As he grew older there was rarely a summer day, rain or shine, when he could not be found on his houseboat reading or gazing at the river.

Don quietly and carefully planned a life that brought his family many joys and successes that he modestly attributed simply to “Strutt Luck.” He was well-known for his frequent, loud and distinctive laugh, often given as a gift to the storyteller.

At his death, he was survived by his life-long partner, five children and spouses, 23 grandchildren and 39 great grandchildren (and counting). 

A belief in “Strutt Luck” still moves the generations to lead successful and happy lives and, perhaps more importantly, to grow from life’s occasional stumbles and disappointments, as they continue Don’s work of making a positive difference in their families and communities.

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