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The Oldest Person I Know Has Died at Age 114

Written by Gary North on April 4, 2012

Dr. Leila Denmark died on April 1. She was the oldest practicing physician in the United States when she retired in 2001 at age 103. She has her own Wikipedia page.

She was on the Eli Lilly team that developed the whooping cough vaccine in the mid-1930s.

She was also an expert in autistic children.

At the time of her death, she was the 76th oldest ever woman and the 83rd oldest ever person on record.

I first met her in the early 1980s. I had young children. She gave me this advice.

If you want a small child to take a pill, and the child won’t swallow it, put it on the floor. The child will swallow it without prodding.

She was practical.

She was also affordable.

From age 30 to 102, Dr. Leila dispensed practical wisdom that effected generations of families in her community, with the welfare of the child always foremost in her mind. And for many of those years she did this out of the family farmhouse in Alpharetta, GA. She had no nurses and no receptionist. All office visits were on a “get in line basis” and cost $10. She answered her own phone right up until the day she took down her shingle. It’s said she had a “way” with children, and they were instinctively drawn to her. Her wisdom and experience instilled confidence in parents. Her commitment to all children, those with disabilities and without, is evident in the very title of her first book, Every Child Should Have a Chance, and the book’s epilogue further confirms her dedication as she writes:

“This is not a medical book, nor is it meant to be a treatise on child care as the term is generally understood and applied. Perhaps it should not be referred to as a book at all but rather as a group of essays dealing with some of the problems, responsibilities, and opportunities that arise in the rearing and training of children. The thoughts and suggestions expressed in the several chapters are based on years in the practice of medicine, dealing with thousands of children in all walks of life … the poor and the wealthy, the weak and the strong, the loved and the unloved, the privileged and the underprivileged.

She did not stop working until she had to. She could no longer see well. Retirement had no appeal to her.

She was not in medicine for the money.

Maybe I’ll live as long as she did when she retired. I hope I’m still writing. But  not 9 articles a day (this site and GaryNorth.com). Two or three will be plenty.

Continue Reading on www.thefreelibrary.com

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3 thoughts on “The Oldest Person I Know Has Died at Age 114

  1. God bless a life well lived and an example to us all.
    We should all strive to do half as much and it would be great accomplishment.
    Rest in peace.

  2. patdirey says:

    I met Dr. Denmark when she was 79. She was absolutely amazing and her energy dwarfed mine although she was 55 years my senior. I instantly adored her and the wisdom she was able to impart to me in just a few minutes has stayed with me. I remember her talking about the school lunches, the snacks given to children in Headstart and kindergarten combined with the lack of exercise making a generation of fat people. Well, it has now come true. She was a great person and the world is richer for her having lived.

  3. Of course, now we find out whooping cough vaccine does not work, so thanks for nothing.