Karl Heusner Biography

Biographic Notes on Dr. Karl Heusner, patron of the "Karl Heusner Memorial Hopsital" (KHMH).

KHMH, courtesy News5
When I was an intern at ISCR, one of my task was to write a brief historical description of the KHMH. I decided to make a visit to the Hospital and gather some information on how the hospital came into being and get a description of the facilities. The public relations officer was too busy to have met with me. I waited for at least 2 hours then decided to head out.

During my visit there, I decided to write down word for word an informational caption below a picture of Karl Heusner  which is posted in the Waiting Hall.

I found out that Karl Heusner was a Belizean doctor who was honored in the renaming of the new Belize City Hospital in 1995. 

Here's a transcription of the information at the KHMH:

Karl Heusner and Family
Dr. Karl Heusner was born in Belize in 1872 to German immigrant parents. He served the people of Belize for 63 years from his clinic on Regent Street, making calls by bicycles, horse and buggy and his black model T-Ford. The car became as much as his trademark as his black wool three-piece suit.

He studies medicine at Tulane, the University of Louisiana and University of Pennsylvania, returning to Belize in 1892 to start his own practice. Over the years, he became known in the United States, the Caribbean, and Central America for his expertise in tropical diseases and his ability to judge, without any equipment and using only his eyes, when cataracts were ready to be removed.

 Heusner Jnr. and Leah (Sister)  
Yet Dr. Heusner was fascinated by “bush medicine” incorporating remedies like “Jack ass” bitters into his prescriptions dispensed in glass bottles marked “K Heusner”. His patients believed in him, and his medicine, one man returned the bottle claiming someone had switched its contents because it tasted different. Save enough, a mistake had been made and the bitters had been left out.

But it was Dr. Heusner sense of humor and compassion that won the hearts of the patients. He delivered literally 100’s of babies, putting mothers at ease, and teasing young fathers. Payment was never a problem; the records after his death revealed he accepted just about anything in exchange for treatment, even a plucked chicken!

He was 88 when he died on 1 December 1960. Concerned about his patients to the very end, he spent his entire morning in the clinic, as jovial as ever, but around noon he calmly told his son Raymond he had chest pain and believed he was going to die.

On the day of his funeral 7 December 1960 flags were flown at half mast, shops were closed early and hundreds lined the streets of the cemetery. Three other doctors, Dr. Perez Schofield, Dr. Mclearr and Dr. John Reneau and the Hon. George Price were among the pall keepers.

Therefore years later, in 1995, the new Belize City Hospital was renamed after Dr. Karl Heusner as a tribute to his lengthy career in medicine and his dedication to the people of Belize. His descendants hope that all Belizean health care providers will be inspired by his skills and compassion and remember a little laughter can still be the best medicine.

Here is a newspaper clipping from The Reporter on Karl Heusner: 

Karl Heusner, The Reporter
Also, note, this particular newspaper says that Heusner passed away in September, whereas the notes at KHMH stated that was in December. It was likely December, because in that document the author seems to have interviewed his descendants and states the funeral was December 7.

Heusner was married to one of the seven daughters of John James Usher, a cousin of prominent Creole businessman and politician Archibald R. Usher, but he is also said to have had children with her sister Elsie May Usher. Karen Judd notes that these offspring “are not part of the family history” (“Elite Reproduction and Ethnic Identity in Belize,” 243 and 272 n. 32). Taken from: Macpherson, Anne S.(2007). 

There is also a commemorative stamp in memory of Heusner. Perhaps, someone has a higher quality image, feel free to submit/share.

Karl Heusner, postal stamp


KHMH, Official Site: http://www.khmh.bz/
Nation honours Dr. Karl Heusner. (September, 10, 1995). The Reporter
"Karl Heusner". Informational Caption, KHMH, 2011. 
Macpherson, Anne S. (2007). From Colony to Nation: Women Activists and the Gendering of Politics in Belize, 1912-1982. USA: University of Nebraska.

Suggested Sources: 
National Heritage Library:
45 Million Dollar Hospital Opens. (1995). The Belize Scene. L-VF Hospitals, p. 6.
Heusner, June. (1994). Dr. Heusner cared for all his children. Amandala, No. 1357, p. 2
Hospital to open: move postponed. (1995). Amandala, No. 1357, p. 1
Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Fact Sheet. L-VF Hospitals. National Heritage Library.  p. 4.
Mai, Amalia. (1995). Modern Hospital: Neglected health care. The Belize Times, No. 3968, p. 2
Nation honours Dr. Karl Heusner. (September, 10, 1995). The Reporter, p. 11
Ramos, Adele. (1995). Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital to open this Friday. Amandala, No. 1357, p. 8
Belize National Archives:
Construction of the New Hospital, Monthly Report. (1992). ASR-275. Belize Archives, p. 1


  1. Love it, thanks for posting.

  2. I am one of Dr. Heusner's many great grandchildren. Slight correction - His father, Jacob Heusner, was German (born 22 June 1836) but his mother, Emilie Strack Heusner, was Prussian (not German). She was born in Cammin, Prussia (now western Poland) on 19 November 1837.

    1. Emil, any idea what happened to Dr. Heusner's daughter Blandina Heusner, born in 1904? I know she became a nun and was known as Sister Mary Aquinas Heusner but have not been able to find out if she stayed in the state, returned to Belize or went to some other country.

  3. Emil, you are correct about the information regarding where Emilie Strack was born. I love learning about my mother's Belize family. I am planning a trip to Belize soon and hope to visit the places she spoke of so often. I do believe she was very homesick. What I cannot find out, is why my mother, her sister and brother, were sent to the US when all the other Huesner children remained in British Hondurus. She came to the US sometime in the late 1930's to live with maternal cousins in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    1. Leah came to the states in Feb 1937 with the children. Her son, Bruce, returned to British Honduras after only a couple of months, but Leah and the girls remained. Leah's brother, Karl Jr, also moved to the states after college. I don't think it was a matter of being "sent" to the states as much as it was her choice.

  4. A photo above is incorrectly captioned as Dr. Heusner and his wife Catherine (Katherine). The photo is actually of my grandmother, Leah Heusner McDonald and her brother Karl Heusner, Jr.

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