I know a whole lot of you don't know my dad, or my family--so please forgive today's topic if that is the case. Today, I'd like to brag a little bit about my family.
My brother, sisters, and I have been working on a way to honor my dad in his recent retirement from 46 years in medicine. Typical of my dad--he didn't want a big fancy retirement party in his honor. In fact, he didn't want any party at all. My siblings and I had recently done scrapbooks for his 70th birthday, as well as my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, so we didn't feel like we could ask all of their friends and family to send honoring messages/memories for another scrapbook. We decided to surprise my dad with a story in the local newspaper about how his retiring will be the last of the Dr. Moores--in a century. (Thank you so much for running the story, News Times!)
So, with that little bit of background, here is the story (with a couple of edits) that ran in the El Dorado News Times on November 2, 2011:
As Dr. John Henry Moore packs up his medical bag for the last time at the end of this month, not only is he retiring from medicine, he is ending a 113-year family tradition. For the first time in a century, South Arkansas will not have a beloved “Dr. Moore” to call upon for medical treatment.
Dr. John Henry Moore stands among a noble set of doctors before him: The big brother he idolized as a boy, and cherished as an adult and colleague, Dr. Berry Lee Moore, Jr. His beloved dad before him, and who seemed to name half the Union County babies of the ‘40s and ‘50s, Dr. Berry Moore, Sr. The distinguished grandfather who started it all—a pioneer not only in his family, but in his community of El Dorado, AR, Dr. J.A. Moore.
Looking back on the history of this family of medical providers, a common theme is revealed: A desire to help others. Medicine was just one way to serve that higher calling. All four of these men served their community of El Dorado by serving on civic and hospital boards; helping start and grow community cornerstones: Warner Brown Hospital, the former National Bank of Commerce, First National Bank, First Baptist Church, and the beautiful downtown Masonic Temple, as well as helping fund other new businesses in the community; serving as deacons and Sunday school teachers in their churches; and helping raise money for many worthy causes through the years. These men were loyal to their community of El Dorado. Dr. J.A.’s grandfather, W. B. Gresham, *was a commissioner who conceived the physical layout of El Dorado, back in the days when horse-drawn carts were regarded as the luxurious modes of travel. (*quoted from The El Dorado Sunday News, Sept. 21, 1930.)
If you were to travel back in time--or just ask around town now—what people remember most about one of these Dr. Moores, I suspect none of these civic accomplishments will be mentioned. What will be remembered about one of these men, will be a personal story… A time when Dr. Moore spent time in his office “talking to me after my wife was so sick” or “coming by the house to check on me after surgery” or even “how the good doc took the time to trim my ole’ toenails for me.” If you could travel back in time, and ask each of these beloved doctors about his greatest accomplishment, he surely would not tell you of a civic deed. He would probably tell you a story or two before answering directly: “Being able to help those in need.”
These Dr. Moores have been beloved by their patients for 100+ years. Their families could surely attest to that: They never could eat a meal in a restaurant, or run a quick errand in town, without being stopped by one of the doctor’s patients stopping to share, “Oh, how I love Dr. Moore! He saved my life when… And not only that—he prayed with me! I’ve never had a doctor pray with me before.” The families learned not always to pay attention too closely…especially at restaurants, when some patients wanted the good doctor to “Check my wound real quick, if you don’t mind.” It adds to these men’s good characters, in looking back over the years, and realizing how many wounds and stitches have been checked over meals of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
These men have seen overwhelming innovations in medicine in 100 years, and took many classes over the years to stay cutting-edge with the new techniques and changes in medicine. However, these doctors were rather old fashioned when it came to patient care. House calls were a common practice for all these men—from Dr. J.A., who never left on a middle-of-the-night call without wearing a suit and starched shirt, before stepping up into his horse-drawn carriage, to Dr. Berry in his favorite Lincoln Zephyr, to the brothers Dr. Berry Lee and Dr. John Henry in their understated Chevy Caprice Classics. They all drove the dusty lanes to the homes in need, and many times came home with a dozen eggs or a sack of turnip greens as payment. These men were not keen on HMOs, and got downright indignant if you mentioned “socialized medicine.” These were doctors who felt it was important not only to know their patients’ names, but their patients’ families, and what church they attended. They were the kind of doctors of old, who believed “managed care” should mean sitting down to talk with a patient who is lonely, and making sure he has enough to eat at home, while checking up on his surgical site.
Certainly these men served tirelessly and cheerfully so many years, but let’s not forget their wives, who helped make that life of service possible. The men may have been wearing the stethoscopes, but Daisy ("DeeJi"), Lydia and Athelene, LaNell, and Cathy were silently serving right beside them--helping visit special patients in the hospital, organizing meals after surgeries, planning family events and vacations around the “on call” schedules, and more nights than they care to remember--keeping dinner warm just a little longer “because Daddy will be home soon.”
Not one of these men wanted any public praise or recognition. They certainly would not have wanted this newspaper story about them. This story is written, instead, for their children and grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and beyond—the nurses and teachers, the lawyers, airplane pilots, entrepreneurs and engineers, preachers, and especially some doctors. This story is to remind them of the Dr. Moores before them, and how they chose to live: Epitomized so well in Dr. Berry Moore, Sr.’s favorite Bible verse, Micah 6:8. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
These men may no longer be practicing medicine, but in certain circles in Arkansas, the name “Dr. Moore” brings up 100 years of fond stories about four good doctors, and the love and the care they spread, all in the name of medicine.
If you know my dad, or if you knew my kind uncle, I'd LOVE IT if you'd leave a little comment about what he has meant to you...