Much Loved Doctor Delivered Generations Of Babies In County

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
 A respected doctor in Benton County for over 50 years, Dr. Guss Salley brought more babies into this world than practically any other doctor to serve in the county.  Dr. Salley had his office at the corner of Washington and Van Buren in Warsaw for many years and in that house hundreds of babies were born and also photographed.  The Benton County Historical Society now has copies of hundreds of the pictures Dr. Salley took of  “his babies” and they are trying to identify them.  They need the help of anyone who might know the people in the photographs.  
Charles Gustavus Salley was born April 3, 1898, the eldest of four children of Levi “Code” and Nora Barrett Salley.  The Salley family resided on a farm 11/2 miles west of Fristoe.  He was called Guss by all the family and in time adopted Guss C. as his proper name.
Salley attended the nearby Locust Ridge one room school, Warsaw High School then worked as a farmer briefly until his late teens.  He then attended Central Missouri Normal School, District #2, in Warrensburg (this is now called the University of Central Missouri).  While in college, Salley participated in the ROTC forerunner then known as the Student Army Training Corps.  He met his future wife Laura Lee Williams while both were students.  
After graduation, Salley returned to the Fristoe area to teach at the Locust Ridge School.  After a year or so, Salley entered the Kansas City School of Osteopathy graduating in 1924.  Salley was in the first class to attend a full four year medical school and serve an internship on completion.  Prior to this time most Medical schools and schools of Osteopathy were as brief as two years with no post graduate internship, little standardization or formal accreditation.
While in medical school, Salley worked a post office night shift as mail sorter and delivered daily newspapers.  Salley also had a keen interest in the sleight-of-hand arts that allowed him to develop into quite a magician.  This talent had developed to the extent that he found summer work with a circus a few years.  These showmanship skills stayed with Salley throughout life and he delighted in entertaining many audiences far and wide with his magic shows.  
Salley’s initial practice was in Manhattan, Kansas, starting in June of 1925.  He was the volunteer Kansas State University athletic physicians, where he had a tough time convincing coaches at the time the wisdom of good preventative athletic healthcare.  
Salley and his college sweetheart Laura Lee Williams were married May 29, 1926 and their only child, a son, Philip was born in August 1934.  They returned to Benton County in 1939 and he started his practice in the house where they would reside.  Salley delivered 5,000 babies during his 50 year practice of medicine and was particularly proud of his record of never losing a single birth mother.  His practice remained at this location for the remainder of his life.
Salley was the Flying Physicians of Missouri Charter President in which he helped to organize in 1946.  Salley, John Bishop and other Warsawians established an airport at the John Bishop ranch west of Warsaw at a site that is now deeply under Truman Lake.  That airport was complete with aircraft hangers, office and workshop.  It was quite possibly Missouri’s first rural medivac as Dr. Salley personally flew man urgent care cases to Kansas City for treatment.
Salley entered politics in the 1960’s to become the Benton County representative to the Missouri Legislature, serving several terms through the late 1970’s.  While serving in the legislature, Saley delighted in taking his grandchildren Pat, Mike and Mitchel in the house chambers.  Salley also served as Mayor of Warsaw two different times from 1948-1950 and again from 1958 until 1962.  Salley also served several terms as Benton County Coroner as well as being an active member of the Lion’s Club and Masonic Lodge holding leadership positions in each at the local and state level.    Salley died May 8, 1981, in the community where he spent most of his life.
His many skills and hobbies included photography, fishing and hunting.  As an accomplished photographer, he photographed most of the birthday mothers with child during his Warsaw practice.  Many of these photos are on display at the Benton County Museum.  Many of these photographs have not been identified so the Historical Society would like for Salley’s former patients or “babies” to come forward to look at the baby pictures and identify the people in the pictures.  Anyone who would like to help with this identification process is welcome at the Benton County Museum located at 1660 Hilltop Drive in Warsaw.  The Museum will open for the season on April 4.