LEGENDARY DOCTORS OF MONROE

 

 

        Recently I read a column in the New York Times where the writer was waxing nostalgic for the good old days in which doctors made house calls and made a plea for such to happen again.

        This rang a poignant chord with me in remembering all the wonderful doctors we had in Monroe during my youth and the good fortune we had in that each and every one of them made house calls which was a part of their oath.

        These devoted men of medicine not only had offices where they saw patients but they went to the hospital and treated those whose illnesses made it necessary for them to be hospitalized. And, like the dedicated men they were, when the phones would ring in their respective homes late at night or early morning, requesting medical assistance and sometimes when the weather was not at its best, out they would go like the post office’s slogan, “Through rain, sleet, hail and storm”, arriving at our doors to soothe the ailments plaguing their patients.

        Previously I have remembered the lives of Dr. Phil Stewart and Dr’s Harry B. Nunnally, Sr. & Jr.  This column reflects two more men equally loved and cherished for the healing arts they gave to their patients, not only physically but mentally as well: Dr. Homer (Pete) Head and Dr. Lynn Huie.

        In its day, Walton Circle was home to five Monroe doctors: Dr. Phil Stewart, Dr. Homer Head, Dr. Sam DeFreese, Dr. Lynn Huie and Dr. Ernest Thompson. At some juncture the Circle took on the name, “Doctor’s Drive” or “Pill Hill”, whichever moniker suited the name at the time.

        In my youth I was treated by Dr. Stewart, Dr. Head and Dr. Huie, all of whom were neighbors near my house. When a case of Asthma laid me low, it only took a quick call to either of the three and one would appear at our door, little black bag in hand, to administer a quick shot of penicillin to relieve my congested lungs and restore normal breathing.

        One of our city’s best diagnosticians was Dr. Homer Head, affectionately known by all as “Pete”. He came from a prominent family in Dahlonega where his father was a beloved physician and his mother, Nina McClure Head, was equally distinguished as being one of Georgia’s “25 Historic Mothers”.  Dr. Head and his wife owned a drug store in Dahlonega and people far and wide knew that the Head home, the doctor’s office and the drug store were all contained in what was known as the Sargent House on the Dahlonega Square.

        Homer Head was born on June 28, 1913 in Dahlonega. Being raised around a medical environment it was only natural “Pete” would grow up with an interest in medicine. After graduating from high school, he entered North Georgia College and upon graduation enrolled in Georgia Medical College in Augusta.  He interned at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.  When World War II broke out he was inducted to the Medical Corps, U. S. Army, where he spent five and a half years in the service of his country. During his army career, he spent 36 months overseas where he practiced his art strenuously under rigorous combat conditions.

        After his discharge from the army and marrying Miss Helen Lindsay of DeRidder, Louisiana, Dr. Head came to Monroe in 1945 where he quickly established himself with a large practice, ministering to his patients, sometimes under less than favorable conditions. Besides his great knowledge of medicine & surgery, his wit and bedside manner made him one of the most popular doctors. His wife, being a nurse, also assisted her husband at times in his office.  He and Helen were proud parents of four children: Mike, Jere, Jenny and Mary Jane Head.

        Being an expert diagnostician, he diagnosed his final illness, even estimating the date of his death. He missed it by two days.

        At the time of his death he was president of the Walton County Medical Society, physician for Walton County and served in the Friday Nurse-Midwife Clinic of the Walton County Health Department. Along with being the medical director of the local Civil Defense Project he was a member of the First Methodist Church, the American Legion and the VFW.

        Losing such a skilled and beloved doctor at the young age of 44 on December 17, 1957 was a great loss to the county.  One of his close friends said at his death, “Pete Head was the consummate physician giving all he had and then some to the Monroe community caring for the lives of his patients. He was concerned more about those he treated than himself. Monroe will miss him sorely and  be forever grateful for his life and skills as a doctor.”

        Up the street from Dr. Head’s house on Walton Circle was his neighbor Dr. Lynn M. Huie, who, at his retirement in 1985, was named Walton County’s “Dean of Doctors” by Wayne Shields.

        One would have to look long and far to find a doctor with the compassion, empathy and dedication that Lynn Huie showed his patients on a day to day basis.

        The boy who would grow up to be the much loved physician in Monroe was born on March 24, 1910 in Atlanta to Mauton I. Huie and Cora Hagan Huie.  After graduation from high school he attended Davidson College where he graduated in 1934. He then attended the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta where he graduated in 1938.  Prior to his graduation from medical school, he married Miss Georgia Brawner who worked at the college.  He interned from 1938 to 1939 at Georgia Baptist Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital.

        After his internship he and his wife moved to Monroe on July 4, 1939 at the insistence of his colleague and friend, Dr. Phil Stewart.  The hospital where the doctors then performed surgery and tended to patients was on the site where the Monroe Fire Department now stands.

        Dr. Huie left Monroe on October 5, 1942 for service during World War II. He was stationed in Jackson, Mississippi and was then transferred to Gadsden, Alabama.  Dr. Huie recalled that the war ended the day he was on the road to Gadsden with his wife and children sleeping in the car.  He stayed in Gadsden for six months treating patients and then returned to Monroe.  He said the three year period he spent in the service was the only time he had not been on the staff at the Walton County Hospital since 1939.

        After moving back to Monroe, Dr. Huie and his classmate in medical school and neighbor, Dr. Homer “Pete” Head, opened an office on Highland Avenue where they treated patients until Dr. Head’s death and Dr. Huie’s retirement.

        When he retired in February of 1985, Dr. Huie was interviewed by both Wayne Shields and Tribune writer Charles Snow. When asked the reason he chose medicine as a career, he replied: “Medicine had always been a fascination for me.  I was born with a crippled foot and spent a lot of time in hospitals.”  He went on to say that when folks learned of his desire to study medicine they said it was his way of getting back at some of the doctors who treated him.

        As for his practice and seeing patients he said, “I enjoy seeing patients and try to do something when they are in trouble and are hurting. With the government’s intervention it is making it more difficult to practice medicine.  I am very glad I went into medicine.  I have never been sorry. There have been people or circumstances that have been aggravating, but most of the time things went along quite well.”

        When Lynn Huie died on May 21, 1989 at the age of 79, tributes poured in from all across Walton County offering comfort and sympathy to Georgia, Lynn, Anne & Budd, praising this quiet, soft spoken man who many considered the quintessential physician.  Perhaps the most eloquent tribute came from one of his colleagues, Dr. Jose Porquez: “Dr. Huie can be characterized as an all-around doctor.  He was loved and well respected. There is not a single physician I know who was more dedicated to his patients than Dr. Huie.  He probably brought two-thirds of this area’s population in to the world. He was a legend, that’s all there is to it.”