Algona, Iowa A Time to Kill, And a Time to Heal

Three years after a brutal murder-suicide wiped out a prominent family, a grieving community dedicates a hospital wing to memory

"Tragedy has been our teacher," the speaker tells the subdued audience squeezed into the gleaming new hospital lobby. "Even though an entire family suddenly ceased to exist on this earth, something good has come from that terrible moment."

The speaker is a retired furniture dealer, not a preacher or philosopher. As chairman of the Kossuth County Hospital in Algona, Iowa, he is welcoming some 700 townspeople to a cookie-and-punch open house at the just-completed John and Agnes Dreesman Memorial Addition.

Plans were drawn in 1982 for the badly needed hospital expansion. But county voters rejected it. Only after the tragedy, as...

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