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  • Val Tilbrrok

Clare Pioneer Dr. Otto Wien-Smith

Dr Otto, who lived and consulted at 'WindyBrae' in Clare, found that a common disease of that day was caused by hydatids. He operated on a number of cases of hydatids, mostly on a kitchen table.

He wrote a thesis on hydatis which he sent to the Edinburgh University. The University granted him a degree of Doctor of Medicine and in 1899 he journeyed to Edinburgh to receive the degree.

He held the position of surgeon of the Clare Casualty Hospital (now our Museum) from 1878 until he retired in 1920. He was one of the founders with Joseph Hermann Knappstein and Magnus Badger of the Stanley Wine Company in Dominic Street, Clare. He was bought out in 1914.

In 1904 he had bought a De Dion car (one cylinder) registration number 21, and this was the first motor car owned north of Adelaide. Now named 'Miss Daisy Bell', that car still runs perfectly and has recently won a trophy for the best preserved vintage car in Australia. It is kept in an air-conditioned garage to prevent any damage.

Dr Otto took a great interest in the affairs of the town and district. He was the Medical Officer of Health for the Clare Corporation for many years. He became a member of the Corporation and was Mayor from 1922-25.

With Mr I. S. Scott, he was instrumental in persuading the Education Department to start a High School in Clare and this was commenced in a small way in 1921. He was a great reader and had a considerable library of medical books and general literature including works by Charles Dickens, Walter Scott and others.

Dr Otto was a lifetime member of the Clare Institute Library and acted as a temporary chairman on many occasions. For two years he was President of the Clare Caledonian Society. With his brother, the late Alfred Alexander Smith, he was a promoter of the Clare and District subsidised hospital. This was opened in 1924 and he became its first Chairman.

As the Clare High School students increased in number the system of “houses” began and were named Wien-Smith, Scott, Gleeson and Knappstein.

He retired in 1920 at the age of 75 and died on 20 May 1932 and is buried in the Clare Cemetery.

- Val Tilbrook

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