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About Dr Warner Karshner & his family
Dr. Warner Melvin Karshner was an amazing man of many facets. He spent time in his life as a pioneer, physician, politician, educator, research scientist, author, and explorer to name a few. But he was best known in Puyallup as a well-loved family doctor.

Born Dec. 27, 1874 in Fremont, Ohio, he came West with his family and eventually settled in Puyallup in 1888. After graduating from the University of Washington, he taught school for two years and then went to the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois. It was there that he met his wife, Ella Hibbert. 
Warner and Ella Karshner
They married in 1905 and he established his medical practice in Puyallup. He practiced medicine in Puyallup until 1926 and then again during World War II when there was a shortage of doctors. He was one of the last “horse and buggy” doctors who delivered thousands of babies and performed surgeries on kitchen tables. In 1922 he and four other doctors built Puyallup’s first hospital. 

Paul KarshnerOn Sept. 16, 1924, Dr. Karshner’s life was irrevocably changed when his only child, Paul, died of Polio. Paul had been sick only 48 hrs. Dr. Karshner was devastated. He eventually took a leave of absence from his medical practice and went back to medical school to get a master’s degree. It haunted him that there was nothing he could do to save his son.

He eventually recovered from his grief and went on to accomplish many things in his life. He served in the State Legislature for 12 years and was a strong supporter of public education. He also served as president of the Puyallup School Board for 12 years. Dr. Karshner was head of the Pathology Department at the University of Washington for four years and did scientific research for the University.

But most importantly for this museum, Mr. and Mrs. Karshner made several trips to Europe, the Middle East, Egypt, and the South Seas. Everywhere they went they collected artifacts. They combined those with the extensive Northwest Native American collection Dr. Karshner had at home. They then donated it all to the Puyallup School District as the Paul H. Karshner Memorial Museum. In 1930, the News Tribune described Dr. Karshner like this: “Where is there another in the state of Washington with the educational equipment and the will and wisdom to use it? Is there anywhere another physician and surgeon of a quarter-century general practice in medicine and surgery who is also a chemist, a botanist, a biologist, a zoologist, a geologist, and, in the fullest sense a Naturalist—with three master’s degrees in the field of pure science.”