Biographical Sketch of Charles William Rasco, Sr., MD
April 9, 1875-January 1, 1953
Charles William Rasco was born on April 9, 1875, in Trigg County, Kentucky. He was the oldest of five children born to James Moore and Elizabeth Daniel Rasco. When he was a young boy, his family moved to Vandalia, Missouri. They lived there about six years before moving to Arkansas in 1892, when Will was 17 years old. They first lived on a farm on the Sassafras Prairie – about six miles north of DeWitt. Will and his younger brother, Roy, would ride their horses into town to go to school. Later their family moved into DeWitt, so that the younger children were better able to attend school.
Will taught school for a number of years and saved money for the medical training he would need to become a doctor. In 1903 he eloped with Hattie Burnett, the daughter of a prominent local businessman and a descendant of French settlers who came to Arkansas Post in 1743. They spent the first few years of their marriage in Memphis, while Will attended medical school. In 1906 they returned to DeWitt, where they lived for the rest of their lives. Will began the practice of medicine as a “good old-time country doctor”. Hattie was primarily a homemaker and mother, but she often went with her husband on his calls, especially if it were the birth of a baby!
Will and Hattie raised four children – two sons and two daughters – and wanted them to all go into medicine. Their eldest son, Charles William Rasco, Jr. – known as “C.W.” – was born in 1906, and attended Vanderbilt University and the University of Arkansas Medical School which was housed in the Old State House at that time. He interned at St. Vincent Infirmary, and returned to DeWitt to open his medical practice in 1936. Their eldest daughter, Frances Elizabeth Rasco Chambers, was born in 1908, attended Galloway College, the University of Arkansas, Central College in Conway, and St. Vincent School of Nursing – but married in 1934 before finishing nursing school. Their youngest son, James Burnett Rasco, Sr. – known as “Jim” – was born in 1914, and attended Little Rock Junior College and St. Louis University School of Dentistry. He returned to DeWitt and opened his dental practice in 1938, making him the third “Dr. Rasco” in DeWitt! Their youngest daughter, Bonnie Bird Rasco was born in 1920, and graduated from Arkansas State Teachers College in Conway, and the St. Vincent School of Nursing in Little Rock. She had a relatively short career as a nurse in the anesthesiology department at St. Vincent Hospital before succumbing to cancer at age 43.
In addition to becoming a longtime and respected country doctor, Will was very active in the First Methodist Church and in civic affairs. He served as a member of the Board of Stewards and the Board of Trustees at his church. He also was a Mason and a charter member and president of the DeWitt Rotary Club.
Due to glaucoma, Will’s eyesight began to fail. He had to retire from medicine in 1938 when he was 63. Even though he eventually became blind, he always had a good attitude and was never demanding. He enjoyed listening to radio programs, especially baseball games. He and Hattie both liked to be taken to the DeWitt Courthouse Square on Saturday nights, where they would sit in the car and visit with friends. In late December of 1952, Will fell and broke his hip. He was taken to a Little Rock hospital and appeared to be recovering when he took a sudden turn for the worse. Will died on January 1, 1953, at the age of 77, and is buried next to his wife in the DeWitt Cemetery.
Biography furnished by H. Terry Rasco, FAIA Emeritus