Arch E. Spelman, M.D.

Arch E. Spelman, M.D., figured prominently in Smithville history as the catalyst behind the town's first hospital in 1938. He knew from the age of 19 that he wanted to become a doctor and to master the field of surgery. And he always valued people as individuals worthy of the best medical care possible regardless of their ability to pay. (Read Dr. Spelman’s "Light of Ideals and Visions," written at age 19.)

Dr. Spelman had been practicing medicine in Smithville, Mo., for only four years when he saw the need for a hospital for residents north of the Missouri River. He appealed to Smithville's businessmen, farmers, and private citizens to help with funds for his vision, and within a matter of weeks, $11,000 had been raised to build the community's first hospital.

Dr. Spelman will continue to be remembered through the Spelman Medical Fund at Saint Luke's Foundation to support patients in the Northland community.


The Smithville Community Hospital, operated by the Community Hospital Association, opened with 11 beds and flourished as it brought new and improved methods of health care to the Northland community.

A new hospital was constructed with 65 beds. Over the years, an intensive care unit, rehabilitation center, pediatric unit, and emergency department were added.

Smithville Community Hospital was changed to Spelman Memorial Hospital in memory of the late Dr. Arch Spelman.

All philanthropic efforts on behalf of the hospital were consolidated into Spelman Medical Foundation.

After decades of operating as a successful rural hospital, Spelman Memorial Hospital joined with Saint Luke's Health System to offer services at Barry Road. Eventually both Smithville and Barry Road became part of Saint Luke's North Hospital, a joint entity with two campuses.

Spelman Medical Foundation elected to serve the new joint entity but retained its name and governance.

Spelman Medical Foundation joined its staff and assets with Saint Luke's Foundation to result in greater coordination among fundraising programs within Saint Luke's Health System and to continue supporting Saint Luke's North Hospital programs.

August 2013 
Family, friends, and community members attended the Dr. Arch E. Spelman Memorial Highway dedication ceremony. This recognition begins on the intersection of US 169 and MO 92 continuing north to Route DD in Smithville, Mo.