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Estherville in the rear-view mirror

By Staff | Jul 2, 2008

Vel, Dr. Bill, and Karen Moreau have played as much of a role in Estherville’s success as anyone. Vel, Bill’s mother, is joining the rest of the community in bidding farewell to her son and Karen who are moving to Bettendorf. Moreau has accepted an administrative position with the Palmer College of Chiropractic. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

Everyone said Dr. Bill and Karen Moreau would never leave Estherville. But never say never when opportunity knocks.

After finalizing the transfer of his practice to Graettinger native Dr. Nicholas Helmich on Monday, the Moreaus scrambled to complete their move to their new home in Bettendorf, not far from Davenport where Moreau has accepted an administrative position with the internationally acclaimed Palmer School of Chiropractic, his alma mater.

It would be one thing to see a person who built his career in a community leave, but for Moreau, it goes far beyond that.

His father, Dr. Paul Moreau, originally from Pineville, La., initially received medical training as a corpsman in the Navy during World War II. He met his wife, Vel, who hailed from Spirit Lake, completed his chiropractic training, and started his practice on North Sixth Street in Estherville in 1955 in a 1,200-square-foot area just next to what is now Bud’s Cafe. In 1964, Paul later built a 3,000-square-foot office for his practice at the site of what is now the Emmet County ISU Extension office across from Estherville Lincoln Central High School.

After completing his training at Palmer, Bill joined his father’s practice in 1981. He worked with his father for several years, and after his father passed away, Bill built the current office on Central Avenue on the east side of Estherville.

Like his father, Bill Moreau’s involvement in the Estherville community has been nothing short of massive. He was here during Estherville’s heyday before the closing of John Morrell’s, through the dark days of the Morrell’s closing, and into Estherville’s renaissance. Moreau played instrumental roles in making the Regional Wellness Center reality and working on the Estherville Industrial Development Corporation board of directors. Moreau was also a lynch pin in developing the Emmet County Water Trail system.

And not only did he continue to build upon his father’s extremely successful chiropractic practice. He has gained international prominence as a university lecturer in the field of chiropractic medicine. And he did it all while living here in Estherville.

Still, it’s a bittersweet departure.

“I’m going to miss walking into stores and have people say ‘Hi, Bill,'” Moreau said.

Moreau says though that living in Estherville helped him build his leadership skill sets that played a large part in helping his to attain his new position with Palmer, skills that Moreau says he could never have developed anywhere else.

Considering the obvious leadership role that Moreau has played in Estherville’s development, one question that many might be dying to ask him what he feels Estherville has to offer and what goals he would like to see the community reach for if he were to stay.

“There’s a lot of business to be done in Estherville,” Moreau said. “It’s really a great place. Estherville has given me tons of opportunities. There’s all kinds of things that if you want to do it you can do it. You can make a noticeable difference.”

Despite the Morrell’s closing, something that would have been the death knell of less resilient communities, Estherville decided to pick itself up by its bootstraps and move on, Moreau observed. “When we decide to do it ourselves, it gets done,” he said. “It takes us all working together to make a difference.”

One case in point of that is the school bond issue in which the community got together toward a common goal. There are many other assets to Estherville as well, he said.

“Iowa Lakes Community College is one of the biggest assets to this community,” Moreau said.

Bill said Estherville needs to continue to identify “doable opportunities” that enhance the community’s quality of life and then execute those opportunities. More people need to become involved in the community and to think outside the box. “We all really have to pitch in,” he said.

Moreau is very optimistic about Estherville’s future.

“Especially in the last 10 years there’s been a fundamental change,” he said.

Adding to the positives for their move, the Moreaus will be living much closer to their sons Kevin and Craig who both live in Iowa City.

Still, his departure is tinged with sadness.

“I won’t be smiling when I drive out of Estherville,” Moreau said. “There are some really super people here. Even though Karen and I are leaving Estherville, we’re still Estherville people. I think when people ask where we’re from, we’ll tell them Estherville.”