Prince Albert residents mourned the loss of local chiropractor Dr. David Buettner, who died on April 14 after being diagnosed with cancer, and leaves behind a legacy that extends far beyond healthcare.
Buettner practiced in Prince Albert for more than 45 years, and served with a variety of provincial and national chiropractic organizations. Locally, however, he was remembered fondly for his volunteer work and efforts to revitalize German Culture with the Prince Albert German Club Waldhorn.
“He was just the kind of guy you could always depend on to do something,” remembered Prince Albert city councillor Don Cody, a former president of the German Club and good friend of Buettner. “If you needed something, call Dave, and he’d do it. He was a great volunteer, a great citizen, and certainly a person we miss in our community.”
Buettner started his career as a teacher in northern Saskatchewan, working in La Loche, Île-à-la-Crosse and Turner Lake, before enrolling in the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto. He returned to Saskatchewan after graduating in 1976, and settled in Prince Albert where he set up his own practice.
Dr. Mark Boden joined Buettner at the practice in 1998. Boden remembered Buettner as someone who made great strides advocating for chiropractic treatment, while remaining a friendly and down-to-earth member of the community.
“Dave always had a busy practice,” Boden said. “The office was always filled with laughter from the stories he would share with his patients. It was good to be in a clinic where the environment was friendly, and to be part of a situation where a lot of people received excellent care.”
Buettner’s contributions in the chiropractic field extended well beyond Prince Albert. Within two years of moving to the community he was elected to the Chiropractors Association of Saskatchewan (CAS) board, where he served as registrar, vice-president, and eventually president. He was also asked to serve on the Government of Saskatchewan’s Joint Professional Review Committee, and in 2012 received a life membership to the CAS for demonstrating excellence in the chiropractic profession and providing exemplary service to patients and the CAS.
Nationally, Buettner was elected to represent Saskatchewan on the Canadian Chiropractic Association board, and was a member of the Council on Chiropractic Education Canada, and the Council of Chiropractic Accreditation. His duties included helping shape Canada’s chiropractic standards, and helping certify the quality and integrity of Doctor of Chiropractic programs used to educate the next generation of Canadian chiropractors.
“The profession has been around for 125 years, but in Saskatchewan, he was working in a time where we were trying to get a foothold in the healthcare system,” Boden said. “His contribution, as well as a lot of his colleagues at the time, was to establish chiropractic care in becoming more mainstream.”
Locally, Buettner gave school presentations on spinal heath, provided medical assessment and treatment for youth boxers, gymnasts and volleyball players. He also provided opportunities for Prince Albert students to job shadow at his office so they could learn more about the profession.
His practice even provided opportunities to get involved in the cultural side of things when he met a fellow Prince Albert resident with German connections. Myron Schmalz said he first met Buettner when visiting his practice to receive treatment. The two began talking about their German cultural ties, and eventually decided to rejuvenate the German-Canadian Cultural Club in 1986. Their efforts proved to be a huge success.
“We thought we would put some feelers out and see if there was some interest,” Schmalz remembered. “That’s how it started. It turned into quite a bit of interest and a lot of fun.”
One of the club’s biggest goals was to teach the German language. Buettner, Schmalz and others recruited some recent German-speaking immigrants to be teachers, and soon found there was a significant demand for the class—and not just from residents of German descent either.
The club opened a German language school, started an annual Oktoberfest, and created a choir and social club. Buettner would often represent the German Club at Tapestrama, an annual cultural showcase put on by the Prince Albert Multicultural Council. He was also elected to the Saskatchewan German Council, serving terms as the organization’s president and vice-president.
Throughout it all, Schmalz said Buettner remained kind-hearted and approachable.
“He was always full of jokes,” Schmalz said. “Anything you ever needed, he was right there to help—both him and (his wife) Ann, together.
“He was a really good friend and he was really, really good to work with, and it wasn’t just the German part of it that he worked on. He worked with all types of people who needed help.”
Those other volunteer duties were extensive. Buettner served as vice-president of the Prince Albert Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, was a board member with both the Prince Albert Parkland Regional Health Authority and Victoria Hospital, and was an active member of St. Mark Catholic Church, where he served on the parish council and was part of the Baptismal liturgical team.
Buettner was a member of the Saskatchewan Northern Trappers Association, and served as a councillor for his northern fur conservation area. Other activities included performing in local theatre productions with the Prince Albert Community Players, playing hockey and softball, competing in judo, and supporting youth sports and culture through scholarships for the Prince Albert Aerials Gymnastics Club, the Prince Albert Toppers volleyball club, and Barveenok Ukrainian Dancers, and numerous local hockey teams.
All his local volunteer efforts were recognized provincially when he received the Saskatchewan Centennial Leadership Medal, and the Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal for his contributions.
“Dave was the kind of guy who is hard to replace,” Cody said. “I saw Dave in church every Sunday, and I’d see him on the street. I’d see him everywhere, and he was always doing something that was more important than doing something for himself.”
“He was just a hard-working guy, and he was tireless in his efforts,” Schmalz added. “He was a great professional and a great volunteer. Prince Albert and district—and the province—are going to miss him.”
Buettner is survived by his wife Ann, their four daughters, three sons-in-law, and eight grandchildren, his two brothers and sisters-in-law, and numerous family and friends from across Canada.