This young adult biography published by Concordia Publishing House in 2012
was written by A. Trevor Sutton. It tells the faith story of Bessie Efner (1873-1962)
a young women who lived out her dream in a time of limited opportunities.
She was born in Galesburg, Iowas on March 28, 1873.
Her father was a Doctor and Bessie grew up by his side
and watched and learned all along and lived in Pierson, Iowa.
She was the kerosene lamp holder for her father to see in a time in the late 1880's
when they worked without electricity.
Though her parents wanted her to marry the son of the town banker
and be a wife and mother.
Bessie could tie up her dream of medicine.
Even in a time when no one knew a female Doctor.
A long time friend- Mrs. Benson encouraged her to go to college and study medicine.
Eventually she decided to attend the Sioux City School of Medicine in Sioux City, Iowa.
She was delighted to find there was one other female in her class- Clara McManus.
Clara could memorize anything and Bessie had to work very hard with the schoolwork.
But, they studied together and Psalm 139 were her favorite verses in the Bible.
After graduation she moved to Hinton, Iowa and started her practice.
She quickly won the confidence of the people she served.
Tragedy struck in her first year of her practice and her older bother and his wife died-
and they left three young girls.
After much prayer and a dose of courage she committed to take on their care.
She brought them to live with her.
Then the Panic of 1907 hit and banks closed and it was very difficult time for all.
People moved, no patients and no money.
A family friend told her about moving West and farmsteading there.
He even gave her the money to make the move.
So they packed up and went to Carpenter, Wyoming.
Life was hard there, but Bessie's practice grew.
One patient was a kind pastor- Rev. Alfred Rehwinkel.
They began conversations and became friends.
Then Alfred had to move back to St. louis and continued to write to Bessie.
Finally they were married in September 1912.
They then moved to northwestern Canada to serve several frontier churches.
Life kept changing. She ws kept must in parish life and didn't work full time as a doctor.
They then moved to Edmonton, Alberta where they served for 14 years.
They also aded to their family with three children of their own.
Later they moved to St. John's college in Winfield, Kansas
where Alfred served as President.
Bessie returned to medicine and helped out doctors wherever she lived.
After 8 years they moved to St. Louis, Missouri,
where he became a professor at Concordia Seminary.
Bessie always thanked God for the ways He took care of her
and she always saw His hand in guiding her decisions.
She died on May 26, 1962.
Sometimes we plan out our lives and God
sends detours and sometimes it may feel like roadblocks.
He is always working out the best for those who trust in Him.
What a wonderful blessing to live this way as a believer in Christ.
If you liked the story of Dr. Bessie,
you can also find a more detailed recounting of this women in the book -
Dr. Bessie- written by her husband- Alfred M. Rehwinkel. It can be purchased on Amazon.