A History of Community Involvement

Born in a storm

Mayo Clinic was born out of a devastating tornado that destroyed much of Rochester in 1883. Dr. William Worrall (W.W.) Mayo, his sons William and Charles, other local physicians, Mother Alfred Moes and the Sisters of Saint Francis cared for those injured by the storm. After the crisis passed, Mother Alfred was convinced that the growing city needed a hospital. She approached Dr. W.W. Mayo to consider establishing one. Dr. Mayo agreed, and Saint Marys Hospital opened on Sept. 30, 1889.

Dedicated to service

Mayo Clinic's founders set an example of community service. The senior Dr. Mayo was a member of the city's board of health for several decades and a founder of the Rochester Public Library. He served as mayor of Rochester from 1882 to 1883, and an alderman from 1885 to 1889.

For many years, Dr. William J. (Will) Mayo was a member of the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents. Dr. Charles H. (Charlie) Mayo became health officer of Rochester in 1912. Like his father, Dr. Charlie served on the Rochester school board. He also promoted the establishment in 1915 of Rochester Community College, the first junior college in Minnesota.

The "giveback" philosophy

Mayo Clinic has always made "giving back" to its community a priority. Beginning in the early 1890s, Drs. William and Charles Mayo decided to save a portion of their earnings to advance medical education and research. Eventually, they used those funds to help establish a graduate school of medicine at the University of Minnesota and to create what later became the Mayo Clinic Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that operates Mayo Clinic.

Supporting the war effort

During World War II, Mayo Clinic offered its services to the government for $1 per year through its aero medical research unit. Mayo Clinic research led to pioneering advances in aviation medicine. The research helped develop the anti-blackout suit and a self-protective technique, the Mayo-1 (M-1) maneuver. These two measures allowed pilots to withstand higher G (gravity) forces during combat, an advantage that saved many lives and helped the Allies emerge victorious.

Expansion of Mayo Clinic and community commitment

As Mayo Clinic operations have expanded over the past several decades to Jacksonville, Fla., in 1983, to Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1987, and Mayo Clinic Health System, so have Mayo's efforts to expand our many community partnerships.