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The ‘Spirit’ is alive in Milroy: Yankton surgeon has contributed in and out of the operating room

Posted: Monday, Oct 8th, 2012


From left are Bette Poppen and Marilyn Hoyt, both Spirit of Dakota Selection Committee Members; Spirit of Dakota winner Dr. Mary Milroy; Earl Nordby, who was instrumental in creating the Spirit of Dakota Award; Milroy’s daughter Laura Johnson and Milroy’s husband Dr. Dan Johnson. PHOTO BY KARA GUTORMSON/PLAINSMAN


HURON — The Spirit of Dakota Selection Commission is honored to announce Dr. Mary J. Milroy of Yankton as the 2012 Spirit of Dakota Award winner. She is described by others as a modern–day pioneer seeking answers to health issues facing so many women today. She is ready to do what she can — when she can — to nurture her family, support community growth and be a woman of faith.

A Girl Scout troop leader, church leader, president of the High School Choir Boosters, an actress and patron of community theatre, an advocate for women’s health care … these are the many contributions she has made and continues to make to her community and state.

From the mission fields of Haiti to the underserved areas of our Indian reservations in South Dakota, she answers the call to help others in need.

Graduating from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine, Milroy chose the path less traveled by women entering the practice of medicine: she chose to become a general surgeon.

When she and her husband, Dan, an orthopedic surgeon, came to Yankton in 1991, she began the difficult challenge of building her own practice and obtaining board certification, supporting her husband in his medical career, and raising four daughters — Carrie, Laura, Leslie and Amy — a balancing act which she managed with skill and grace.

Milroy limited her professional practice to diseases of the breast, being one of the first surgeons in this field in South Dakota. Because of her commitment to her profession, she not only impacts her patients but also their family members, friends and caregivers. She extends her expertise and compassionate care to all involved.

She remains active in state and national medical organizations and has received numerous awards from the American Cancer Society and the South Dakota Medical Association, among others.

In 2004, Milroy was the driving force in the formation of the South Dakota Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. The foundation provides funds for the screening and treatment of breast cancer, and also dedicates monies for breast cancer research in South Dakota.

In 2011, the South Dakota department of Health reported that cancer became the leading cause of death in the state. Once again, Milroy was asked to lead efforts in the fight against the devastating disease.

She is currently the chair of the South Dakota Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition.

The Coalition seeks to coordinate all groups involved in cancer services and research. She also serves on the steering committee for All Women Count and numerous other boards, where she shares her wit and wisdom.

Her life serves as a daily testimony of compassion for others. Milroy is completely committed to serving her community, being a wonderful mother and wife, and making Yankton and the state of South Dakota a better place to call home.

She embodies the spirit of a bold Dakota woman who has demonstrated vision, courage, leadership and the advancement of others in her community and state.

For the complete article see the 10-07-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-07-2012 paper.


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