102-year-old doctor has time to spare for patients!!
Image Credit: Time Inc Image from Madia Bowman
ALPHARETTA, Georgia -- At age 102, Dr. Leila Daughtry Denmark is the oldest known
practicing doctor in America. A Pediatrician!! And her old-fashioned ways suit patients just fine.
The suburban Atlanta pediatrician doesn't accept medical insurance, she has no office staff and
the wait to see her may take up to four hours -- no appointments; first come, first served.
But the drawbacks don't seem to matter to parents, including some who once were Dr. Denmark's
patients when they were children themselves. Some travel hundreds of miles to have their children
treated by a doctor with 70 years of experience.
The medical knowledge Dr. Denmark dispenses may turn out to be just plain common sense,
but she seasons it with a sense of humor.
"The sorriest things we have on Earth today is parents," she tells one young mother.
"And the next is the kids they're producing."
But behind the joke is a serious message for parents -- a message that explains why Dr. Denmark
is so unusual in our prescription pill-popping culture.
"Take time, find out what made that person sick," she says, "then they don't have to come back."
HR 399: A bill inviting her to the Georgia House!
1- 1 Commending Dr. Leila Daughtry Denmark for her exemplary
1- 2 medical career and inviting her to appear before the House
1- 3 of Representatives; and for other purposes.
1- 4 WHEREAS, Dr. Leila Daughtry Denmark has attained
1- 5 distinctions achieved by only the rarest of individuals for
1- 6 she is a distinguished pediatrician who just celebrated her
1- 7 99th birthday and who continues an active medical practice
1- 8 in Alpharetta, Georgia; and
1- 9 WHEREAS, Dr. Denmark is a native of Bulloch County, Georgia,
1-10 who was born on February 1, 1898; she graduated from Tift
1-11 College in 1922 and was the third female to graduate from
1-12 the Medical College of Georgia in 1928; and she was the
1-13 first intern at Egleston Hospital for Children and admitted
1-14 the first patient; and
1-15 WHEREAS, she conducted extensive research in the diagnosis,
1-16 treatment, and immunization of whooping cough beginning in
1-17 1933 and continuing for some ten years; and she has authored
1-18 numerous scholarly studies and publications in the field of
1-19 pediatrics; and
1-20 WHEREAS, she is honorary president of the Georgia Chapter of
1-21 the American Academy of Pediatrics; she received the
1-22 Distinguished Alumni Award from Tift College, Georgia
1-23 Southern College, Mercer University, and the Medical College
1-24 of Georgia; and she has received numerous community service
1-25 awards and citations from corporate and civic organizations;
1-27 WHEREAS, she was the wife of the late John Eustace Denmark,
1-28 a retired vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of
1-29 Atlanta, for more than 62 years; and she has been a
1-30 wonderful mother and loving grandmother in addition to her
1-31 demanding professional career; and
1-32 WHEREAS the tremendous intellectual talent, dedication,
1-33 compassion, and generosity of this remarkable lady deserves
1-34 the utmost praise; and her incredible vitality and
1-35 considerable influence in the lives of countless Georgians
1-36 merits the highest admiration and esteem.
2- 1 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF
2- 2 REPRESENTATIVES that the members of this body recognize Dr.
2- 3 Leila Daughtry Denmark for her illustrious medical career
2- 4 and public service and invite her to appear before the House
2- 5 of Representatives at a time to be determined by the Speaker
2- 6 of the House of Representatives.
2- 7 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Clerk of the House of
2- 8 Representatives is authorized and directed to transmit an
2- 9 appropriate copy of this resolution to Dr. Leila Daughtry
HR 984: Commendation to Dr. Leila Daughtry Denmark:
1- 1 Commending Dr. Leila Denmark; and for other purposes.
1- 2 WHEREAS, Dr. Leila Denmark observed her 100th birthday on
1- 3 February 1, 1998; and
1- 4 WHEREAS, she is the oldest practicing physician in the
1- 5 United States; and
1- 6 WHEREAS, she has dedicated her life to the preservation of
1- 7 the health of babies in Georgia through her pediatrics
1- 8 practice since 1928; and
1- 9 WHEREAS, she was one of 12 children, was raised on a farm in
1-10 the South Georgia town of Portal, and attended Tift College
1-11 in Forsyth before being accepted at the Medical College of
1-12 Georgia, from which she was graduated as the only woman in
1-13 her medical class in 1928; and
1-14 WHEREAS, shortly after her graduation she married John E.
1-15 Denmark, moved to Atlanta, and began working at Grady
1-16 Hospital; and
1-17 WHEREAS, when her daughter, Mary, was born in 1930, she set
1-18 up a private practice in the breakfast room of her first
1-19 house in Morningside, worked every Thursday at the charity
1-20 baby clinic, and saw patients at Egleston Hospital for
1-21 Children; and
1-22 WHEREAS, her research on whooping cough in the early 1930's
1-23 led to the development of the pertussis vaccine and the
1-24 modern-day DPT vaccination; and
1-25 WHEREAS, she practiced pediatrics from 1945 until 1985 in
1-26 Sandy Springs before moving to a farmhouse in Forsyth County
1-27 to retire at the age of 87; and
1-28 WHEREAS, the allure of helping sick babies called her out of
1-29 retirement and back into practice and she continues to see
1-30 15 to 25 patients a day; and
1-31 WHEREAS, her only mission in life has been to give children
1-32 a chance and she dispenses sage advice when she insists that
1-33 parents trust their instincts when dealing with children;
2- 1 WHEREAS, it is abundantly fitting and proper for this body
2- 2 to honor the illustrious career of this tireless healer who
2- 3 has humbly served the needs of countless children in this
2- 4 state.
2- 5 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF
2- 6 REPRESENTATIVES that the members of this body join in
2- 7 unanimously recognizing Dr. Leila Denmark for her many years
2- 8 of devoted service to the babies of this state and commend
2- 9 the 70 years of selfless and inspirational service she has
2-10 rendered on behalf of the citizens of this state and wish
2-11 her many more birthdays to come.
2-12 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Clerk of the House of
2-13 Representatives is authorized and directed to transmit an
2-14 appropriate copy of this resolution to Dr. Leila Denmark.
She Spoke of the High Calling of Motherhood!
"Dr Leila Denmark of Atlanta, Georgia, celebrated her hundredth birthday in
She is the oldest practicing physician in the U.S.A. according to American Medical Assoc.
records. She still puts in 10- and 12-hour days, four days a week and charges $10 a consultation.
She still hikes the mountains, walks several miles each afternoon, and plays golf: "I play 18 holes
mind you, not just 9 holes." For 56 years she donated her "off day" to a well-baby clinic which is
held in the Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Atlanta, which reaches out and provides
care for inner-city mothers. But her ministry there has recently had to end as she can no longer
drive in downtown traffic.
When at the age of 87 she and her husband moved to the country from the city of Atlanta
her army of mothers and babies followed her, and still they come from all over the city.
Dr Denmark keeps her office in a 120-year-old log cabin in her rural home, 30 miles
north of Atlanta, in Alpharetta, and she still uses the same wooden examining-table she
began with 70 years ago. She makes no appointments and has no secretary. She sees
between 15 and 25 people every day, and on a Thursday, which is her off day, her
daughter comes to help with the paper work. Leila Denmark has a reputation of being
different. She is strict, straight, blunt and courageous. She has strong opinions. She
preaches loud and long about the primary place of mothers in the home, arguing that
every mother should stay at home from the time her first child is born until the youngest
is at least seven. When Dr Denmark addresses her patients she always does so by their
second name, for example, "Mrs Lewis" and never by the first name no matter how long
they and their children have been coming to her. Dr Denmark drinks no liquids at all
except water. She would not eat a bite of her 100th birthday cake - "too much sugar." She
says that she has not knowingly eaten sugar in 65 years.
This physician was the only woman graduate of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta
in 1928, and she was the first doctor certified on the staff of the famous Egleston Children's
Hospital in Atlanta. She held that post for sixty years. She says, "When I began practicing
pediatrics in 1928 there were only 23 pediaticians in Georgia. Now there are 1,100.
More pediatricians are needed because our babies are sickly. Our mothers aren't raising
them the right way." She recalls the oratory of the early feminists: "I remember listening
to the suffragettes in the 1920s. They would come to our little town of Portal and put on
the playlet 'Ten Nights in a Bar Room' and then they would step out on the stage and say,
'When women get the vote you'll never see this again.' But women got the vote in 1922
and what have we done with it? Now we can kill our babies; that's what we have done
with it. I believe in women having freedom. But with our freedom we have abandoned
our children and wrecked our nation. 40% of the women who work outside the home
lose their husbands. Is that progress ?"
Sunday is the Lord's Day, and for more than 65 years she has been a member of Druid
Hills Baptist Church. Her husband John was vice-president of the Federal Reserve Bank
in Atlanta and a deacon in Druid Hills for forty years. Their pastor, Harold Zwart, says
that they would always be in church in their favourite pew, never seeking acclaim, despite
the heights they both reached in their careers. At the time of her hundredth birthday the
church held a special service to thank God for Leila Denmark, and gave a financial gift to
the well-baby clinic at Central Presbyterian Church. Her husband John died in 1991. He
had kept her books and managed her office and sat in their rose-garden talking to anxious
mothers who were waiting to see his wife.
One of her patients, Julia Ogletreee of Dunwoody, says, "I'm a Christian, and I seek out
Christian friends. Dr Denmark has convinced me and many others that motherhood is a
sacred calling, a divine vocation, not a job or burden. I heard her say one time that, except
for Adam, no person has come into the world except by a woman, and that is a big responsibility.
We do what she tells us and our babies rarely get sick. She is a Christian
missionary in the highest sense."
On her birthday messages of congratulation came to her from the U.S. President and
from former President Jimmy Carter. Friends in England also called her with their good
wishes. "I don't deserve all this recognition," she told a reporter. "My only mission in life
has been to give a child a chance." Dr Leila Denmark is a remarkable role-model for a
Walter Chantry, the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, has written
a splendid 8 page leaflet that should be put in every church book-rack, "The High Calling
of Motherhood" (Banner of Truth, 10 for £3.50 or for $7.50). Walter Chantry concludes,
"One of the most encouraging signs in our age is an increasing number of young women
who aspire to being godly. They are serious about motherhood. They have ordered their
priorities biblically and already demonstrate the traits of faith, love and holiness. But they
will come under fierce attacks. Women's literature will belittle them as doing nothing
significant. As sacrifices mount, temptations will increase to fall in with the world's
system. Young men, for you to follow the Lord fully your wife will need to be reminded
that you share her vision for pleasing God through rearing a family. You must let her
know that you admire her labours in motherhood. And churches too must combat the
deluge of worldly propaganda. They must continually hold out the biblical ideal of
women's service to God and humanity in childbirth, and continuance in faith, love,
and holiness. In due time faithful mothers will have the seal of God's blessing on their
Above "High Calling" story was written by Geoffrey Thomas in 1998
"Dr Denmark Said It" is a Child Care Health Book
CHALK ONE UP FOR LEILA DENMARK, M.D.
"On abortion: 'If I were to put the baby on the counter and hand the mother a knife and say, 'Take its head
off...,' no woman would kill that baby - not a one. She wants a law passed so somebody else can kill that baby for
her, and then she's not to blame. We're looking for excuses in life all the time.'"(5)
(5) "Physician" magazine, July/August 1994, p.7.
'Nuff said. Thank you, Dr. Denmark.
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