The original Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital at 24th Street and Harrison Boulevard in Ogden passed into history as an institution of healing on July 12, 1969, when its patients were transferred to the new David O. McKay Hospital at 3939 Harrison Boulevard.
The Dee, as it was affectionately called for 59 years, began a second life on November 10, 1971, when the new facility bearing the same name opened its doors adjacent to the McKay, as an integral part of the McKay-Dee Hospital Center.
The Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital was founded in 1910 by Annie Taylor Dee, widow of Thomas, and their children - Maude, Mary Elizabeth, Margaret, Edith, Florence, Rosabelle and Lawrence - as a memorial to their husband and father.
From the very beginning, the story of the Dee Hospital has been interwoven with the life stories of the Dee family.
Native of Wales
Thomas Duncombe Dee was born in Llanelli (historically known as Llanelly), Carmarthenshire, South Wales, on November 10, 1844. His father, who was a potter, and his mother became converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emigrated to the United States in 1850. They sailed across the Atlantic, landed in New York City, and then made their way by railroad and ox-drawn wagons to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, a staging point for Mormon pioneers bound for Utah.
In 1860, they made the long trip, with the John Ross Company, from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake City, with 16-year-old Thomas driving an ox cart. Another caravan crossed the plains that same year. Among its members was the family of John Taylor, including his eight-year-old daughter, Annie. She was born November 4, 1852, in Lostock Graylam, Chestershire, England.
Crossing the Plains
In her later years, Annie was to write, in a slim little leather-bound volume, about that trip.
"Our family left Iowa before Lincoln was elected President of the United States.
"On the 24th of May, 1860, we started for the West with an ox team. Our wagon was built with side boards to make it as roomy as possible. There were thirteen in the family. My father and mother loaded the wagon with clothing, bedding and all the food supplies possible for the journey.
"We traveled along, walking most of the way. If any member of the family did not feel well or was too tired, that person rode a while; but otherwise all walked most of the way to Utah. We were glad at night when it was time to camp, but were always eager to start again in the morning. At noon, we stopped a while for lunch. For the noon meal we did not make fires or unpack more than was necessary. We always tried to stop near water. Our family had two cows, and our lunch generally consisted of bread and milk or something easily served. I have never cared for bread and milk since that time."
Annie's father was a tailor and set up his Salt Lake City shop on Main Street, just a few doors from South Temple. Here he made clothing, mostly for officers at Fort Douglas, who furnished their own materials. As she grew older, Annie helped in the shop with the sewing.
A beautiful and talented girl, Annie sang in the Tabernacle Choir and played some small roles in the Salt Lake Theater. She recalled that the theater had a dirt floor and the audience sat on benches. The house was lit with tallow candles with tin reflectors, hung against the wall.
Courtship and Marriage
Very little is recorded about the courtship of Annie Taylor and Thomas Dee. In her own book, "Memories of a Pioneer," Annie says only:
"On January 10, 1870, the railway reached Salt Lake City. There were thousands of people who came from all over the state to celebrate the event. The Fort Douglas band marched down to the celebration. In Ogden, the railway company gave complimentary tickets to a great many citizens. Thomas D. Dee and his mother came to Salt Lake City. They were distant relatives of ours. They came to visit us, and when they returned my sister and I went to Ogden and stayed a few days."
However, the Dee family has preserved two illuminating letters. From Ogden, young Thomas wrote to Annie's father:
"January 15, 1871
Mr. John Taylor
I have no other apology to offer for writing to you than that I never have had an opportunity to speak to you on a subject that I should have consulted you about before.
Of course it has been known to you that for some time past your daughter Annie and myself have been corresponding with each other, and that I have made occasional visits to her; well, such things generally lead to something more important, at least this has done so, and the object of this letter is to ask your consent for us to get married. I don't know that I need add any more, but hoping to hear from you soon and that my request will receive your favorable consideration.
I remain yours truly,
Thomas D. Dee."
The reply was dated January 24, 1871.
Your letter was duly received and in regard to my daughter Annie I know of no reason why I should not give my consent for her to become your wife. It is my wish that she should have a husband of her own choice, a man whom she could honor and respect as Husband, and one who will have wisdom enough to make her an honorable wife, so that both may be happy and contented.
"If you are essentially agreed in this matter and believe it will be for each others happiness to be Husband and Wife you have my permission and are at liberty to make your own arrangements.
"I think this is all that I need to say on this occasion.
Accept my kind regards,
On April 10, 1871, Annie Taylor and Thomas Dee were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, and came to Ogden to live. Their first home in Ogden was a two-room adobe house on 22nd Street near Wall Avenue. After the birth of a son, Thomas Reese, and three daughters - Maude, Elizabeth, and Margaret - they found the house too small and moved "out into the country" on Washington Boulevard at 8th Street. This became the family home and three more girls - Edith, Florence and Rosabelle - and a boy, Lawrence, were born there.
Carpenter by Trade
Thomas was energetic, industrious, sound of judgment and had a great desire to succeed in whatever he was doing. He followed the carpenter's trade, which he had learned as a youth in Wales, and became interested in many business activities and civic enterprises.
The happy family was struck by tragedy in 1894, when the oldest son, Thomas Reese, then 21, became ill. His illness was diagnosed as "inflammation of the bowel," and the first appendectomy was performed in Ogden on the family's dining room table in an effort to save his life. However, the appendix had ruptured, and he died shortly after.
This tragedy left a lasting impression on his mother and she determined to do something, if possible, to help the sick.
Thomas Dee was a self-educated man, with less than two years of formal schooling. Hungry for knowledge, he assembled a large library and taught himself through reading.
At various times, he served as president of Ogden's first library, as assessor and tax collector, city councilman and police court judge. He was associated with the Ogden School Board for 35 years, serving as president for eight years. He was appointed to the State Board of Equalization and was a member of the State Tax Commission for a number of years.
With a friend, David Eccles, he became interested in the lumber business at Baker, Oregon. This profitable business still survives as Anderson Lumber Company. He and Mr. Eccles originated the Ogden Sugar Company, and later, the Logan Sugar Company. These two businesses became the nucleus of the Amalgamated Sugar Company. He was active in the First National Bank and the Ogden Savings Bank, now First Security Corporation.
In 1900, he organized and became the first president of Utah Construction Company, predecessor of Utah Construction and Mining Company, later Utah International, an organization with world-wide activities. He continued as president of the company until his death.
He did not neglect his LDS Church duties, serving as Counselor in the Mound Fort Bishopric and Superintendent of the Sunday School.
In the early 1900s, Thomas Dee became interested in the Ogden City Water Works. It was owned by "Eastern capitalists," as they were called, who gave little local service, and it had fallen into a state of disrepair. When it went into receivership, Mr. Dee, Mr. Eccles and some other associates purchased the entire system for $1 at the bankruptcy sale. They planned to restore the system and turn it over to the city. This plan was carried out and, eventually, Ogden City purchased the water system, paying only the amount invested in the restoration.
In July, 1905, Mr. Dee and some of his associates in the water company went to South Fork Canyon to survey the possibilities of an additional water supply. Mr. Dee fell into the river and became chilled. By the time the party returned home he had pneumonia. Once again, Annie Dee watched one of her loved ones suffer. He died July 9, 1905, at the age of 61.
Funeral In Tabernacle
Mr. Dee's funeral, held in the Ogden Tabernacle, was attended by a capacity crowd. Schools were dismissed for the day because of his interest in education, and children lined the streets leading to the Tabernacle.
Mrs. Dee, mourning the death of her husband and remembering her eldest son's death following the surgery performed on her dining room table, enlisted the help of her children and announced her intention to build a hospital as a memorial to her late husband.
In the words of her eldest daughter, Maude Dee Porter, "This was a field entirely outside our knowledge or experience, but we made up for that in our sincerity of purpose."
Advisor to the family on the undertaking was Dr. Robert S. Joyce, the 6'4" railroad physician who was like a son to Thomas and Annie Dee.