Life's Story

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Mary E. Ryerson Butin M.D.

The qualities most dominent in my nature and vigorously manifest early in life, were a repudiation of the false in friends or material things and a demand for the true in both, which has been largely realized; a confidence and trustful belief in people, not altogether to be regretted, but which experience has modified; a spirit to seek other than well beaten paths in pursuance of an object: a love for the beautiful and artistic, common to most women; impatience of physical restraint in conventional dress, though never approving hoydenish or mannish ways; a keen sense of humorous and an exhuberance of spirit, common to other members of my family, but from the seriousness of my nature, little exercised; virtues were inculcated in early life "line upon line" and "precept upon precept" and thoroughly engrafted.

I have not accomplished all that I would like to have done or as much as I had planned to do, but hope there has been some resultant good to others and an advanced objective for women. Between its narrow
confines, the stream of my life has run deep and swift; from its placid smiling surface, none might guess how deep the waters, how strong the current or how dangerous the rapids have been. My joys have been heightened and sorrows mitigated as I have striven to aid others and all life in consequence has taken on a greater depth of meaning. I am convinced that no woman ever studies medicine or pursues the practice of it, but who is called to higher purposes.

There has never been a moment in my life that I have regretted the decision made so early in life, or a time when I have not felt devoutly thankful for my knowledge of medicine.

Mary Ryerson Butin M.D.
Madera, California
August 1, 1932

'Tis many a mile, many a smile and many a sadness too, since as a happy carefree child I grew to young womanhood and in the words of that old song, I can say, "Now as grave and reverend Seniors, look we
der the verdent past."

I was born on a farm in Iowa, my parents having come there in the late fifties from New Jersey. I had three brothers, who, together with myself, were the objects of much careful bringing up, and as the only
girl, I suspect I may have developed an age.

My father was instrumental in establishing a school close to our home and memories of school on long benches, fireside studies in winter and friends then made, linger with poetic and sentimental halo. One
of my teachers later said that he had seldom seen no joyous a nature.

My mother, practical and sensible, was often called to help the neighbors in times of illness and realized the usefulness of a trained and educated woman and early in my life taught me to say when Igrew up I was going to be a doctor. It was a strange freak of fate which would make one choose a career in which there was so little to provoke levity or occasion calling for it.

When we were nearly grown, my people moved to Wilton that we might have the advantage of better schooling, where I entered the high school and graduated at the head of the class. Later I attended a sectarian school, in which my two older brothers had proceeded me, which would now be known as a Liberal Arts Institution and in which I acquired much of the moral trend which has characterized my life. After two and a half years there, I sought and obtained a teacher's certificate. Having taught school two terms, I was offered a position in the high school from which I had graduated, but after a conference with my mother, who  encouraged me, I decided to take up the study of medicine. When I made my decision known, my schoolmates were agast, that I, who had always seemed so different, should take so decisive a step or be of so determined a character. To study and practice medicine was to them a matter of amazement.

About this time there came to our town, to lecture, a noted woman physician, Dr Anna Longshore Potts, of a prominent family in Philadelphia. I attended her lectures with my mother, resolved to meet her ideals, and she no doubt influenced my later life, and at no time in after life did I realize the the gravity of my professional career, or the responsibilities of every physician.

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