11/27/2013 9:11:00 AM Collection on display at Olmsted Medical
by Sue Sullivan
At about the age of 10 years, young Robert Molenaar began collecting things from nature. He remembers as a youngster finding an Indian spearhead and a buffalo skull on the family farm.
Throughout the years his collection expanded to include the sampling now on display at Olmsted Medical Center in Cannon Falls.
Some of his artifacts were acquired through his considerable use of persuasion and all from his wide interests. He attended antique shows and museum dispersals, along with stopping at various rock shops and attending gem and mineral shows.
A large standing amethyst geode was found at a rock shop in Wisconsin. "I saw it there three years in a row so I told the owner that I'd make him a deal. I'd pay him ten percent over his cost to get it out of the shop for him. He gets a profit and space freed up and I get the geode for less than asking price!" exclaimed Molenaar.
The large sparkling rock about five feet tall now graces a corner of the new Olmsted Medical Center. He explains placement of the collection at the clinic "to give a sense of the continuity of life, from me to the patient."
Telling the story of his youth to explain his wide and varied interests, Molenaar said that he began as a "late" reader, but when he did learn to read there was no stopping him. He had become a speed-reader early on and he read everything the bookshelves of his one-room schoolhouse contained. That, he said, diversified his curiosity and sent him in multiple directions to seek knowledge.
From extinct fossilized creatures to the study of the metaphysical world of cosmology, Molenaar became knowledgeable on many subjects.
While he had not completed high school due to an illness that robbed him of his adolescence and threatened to take his life, he applied to the University of Minnesota. Denied by one in admissions, he asked to see the supervisor until, after three attempts, he was admitted and completed his four-year degree in only two years. He was then admitted to medical school and became a physician.
Dr. Robert Molenaar, whose practice was in Cannon Falls for many years, is now retired here and as he quips, "I'm recovering my adolescence after (age) 80."