Jim Woster is a bust - and that's goodDriving from Pierre to Brookings and back in the same afternoon and evening is a bit of a challenge for a couple of mature folks like me and Nancy, but we made the trip on Wednesday for the pleasure of watching my big brother honored at South Dakota State University. Jim, the oldest of Henry and Marie Woster’s five children, is four years older than I am, but he graduated from Chamberlain High School five years before I did.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
Driving from Pierre to Brookings and back in the same afternoon and evening is a bit of a challenge for a couple of mature folks like me and Nancy, but we made the trip on Wednesday for the pleasure of watching my big brother honored at South Dakota State University.
Jim, the oldest of Henry and Marie Woster’s five children, is four years older than I am, but he graduated from Chamberlain High School five years before I did.
He skipped second or third grade while we were still at Reliance, so he graduated from high school a couple of months before his 17th birthday. (If I have the math right. And if I don’t, Howard Elrod is somewhere out there to shake his head and wonder what I was doing all those classes of his back at CHS.)
Jim got a degree in animal husbandry at South Dakota State College.
As he likes to tell it, he got his diploma a short while after sundown one evening and started at the Sioux Falls Stockyards long before sunrise the next morning.
He made quite a career out of cattle buying, and he never shirked from the tough work of handling cattle in the pre-dawn hours in the pens and alleys of the old stockyards. He’s probably been knocked down more times than a Rocky Marciano sparring partner, and he has spent enough early-morning and late-night hours on the road to match most long-haul truckers.
It wasn’t a career for slackers, but my big brother found great rewards in the dust and sweat and manure of the stockyards. He must have. He stayed there, one way or another, four decades or more.
Somewhere along the way, he started visiting the sick at McKennan Hospital. He’s always been a pretty faithful guy at morning Mass, so maybe he took the hint from Scripture. Or maybe he just discovered that folks laid up in a hospital bed are a captive audience and happy to see any visitor.
Whatever the reason, he became famous for his flying trips through the hospital wards, popping in to talk to one patient after another, spreading smiles among the pain and misery.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the nurses and doctors and nuns at McKennan had their doubts at first. But if they watched my big brother, they saw that he didn’t overstay his welcome at any one room.
That was partly because of a sensitivity toward the need for rest for the patients and partly because my big brother never spent more than about five minutes in any one place in his whole life. On his hospital rounds, he shows up, lifts spirits and takes his leave.
I can’t tell you the number of names I’ve given my big brother over the years of Pierre folks hospitalized in Sioux Falls. He has never failed to stop by their rooms, and they have never failed to tell me later how much the quick visits meant to them.
South Dakota State and McKennan — now Avera Health — combined to build a new science and health center on campus. Nancy and I were in it for the first time last Wednesday evening. It’s a beautiful place and it holds the promise of turning out a lot of kids who will be able to make a difference in South Dakota’s future.
In a many-windowed room on the south side of the center, the university and the hospital decided to place a sculpture of my big brother. It’s a bust, one of those head-and-shoulders deals, and it’s a pretty impressive piece of artwork.
Dale Lamphere from out west is the sculptor. His creation was unveiled during a short ceremony on Wednesday.
The ceremony included many jokes about Jim. Joking aside, his selection as the subject of the bust in the Avera Health and Science Center shows how instrumental he was in turning an audacious notion into a reality. Henry and Marie would have been proud. I sure am.
I confess, though, I don’t know how Lamphere got him to sit still long enough to finish the piece.