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Author shares her grandfather's first-hand account of treating rural patients during the 1918 flu pandemic

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

The winter of 1918 was brutal, not for the weather, but because the world was in the grips of an influenza pandemic that took at least 50 million lives worldwide.

No place was safe from this highly contagious illness and doctors everywhere were doing their best to keep their patients alive.

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Mary Beth Sartor Obermeyer about one doctor who treated influenza in Kossuth County. When Winter Came: A Country Doctor's Journey to Fight the Flu Pandemic of 1918 chronicles the life of Sartor Obermeyer's grandfather Dr. Pierre Sartor, who first emigrated from his native country of Luxembourg to Chicago, before deciding to go where he felt he was needed — rural northern Iowa.

While more than one thousand of his patients got sick during the influenza pandemic, he only lost five. Sartor Obermeyer will be giving readings of her book at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City and at the Titonka Public Library.

Also, we talk about the annual phenomenon of deer antler sheds and a free interactive event on the topic happening on Feb. 25.


  • Mary Beth Sartor Obermeyer, author and Mason City native
  • Michael Maas, naturalist, Buchanan County Conservation Board
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.