Four Generations of Medical Ministry – Part 1

 

Dr. John Aaron Moore
1898

Dr. Berry Lee Moore Sr.
1932

Dr. Berry Lee Moore Jr.
1954

Dr. John Henry Moore
1964

 

Dr. James Michael Berry
1984

 

Dr David Lee Berry
1991

 

I was born into a family of medical doctors. My Dad (Pop) was a second generation physician and had been in practice with his father, Dr. John Aaron Moore for 5 years prior to my birth in 1939. Granddad Moore began his practice in Union County, Arkansas in 1898 in the community of Lisbon and later moved his family to El Dorado in 1912 where he continued to practice until his death in 1943.

The small, quiet town of El Dorado, Arkansas was transformed into a boom town with the discovery of oil in 1921, and the population quickly grew from just several thousand residents to near 40,000 within a few months. The medical needs of the town grew exponentially, and Dr. J. A.’s practice responsibilities were huge. The economy during the 1920’s was booming and people were better able to pay for the medical care they needed. There was no such thing in those days as medical insurance, so everyone paid either cash for their care or bartered with their physician using such things as fresh vegetables, chickens, hogs or rabbits. No one was ever turned away from receiving medical care by Granddad Moore because of lack of money. That principle of reimbursement for medical treatment begun by Granddad was continued throughout the next 2 generations of Moore’s who served the people of South Arkansas.

Upon completion of his medical training in 1934, my Dad (Pop) joined his father in a general medical practice in which they treated every medical condition including delivering babies and doing all forms of surgical procedures. Following medical school graduation in 1932 Pop had taken 2 years of additional surgical training at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and was qualified to do most general surgical procedures in addition to orthopedic procedures. They continued their practice together through the economically depressed era of the 1930’s and the beginning of World War II. Granddad Moore had severe coronary artery disease  and died as a result of a heart attack in September, 1943. Pop continued in a solo practice through the 1940’s and 1950’s during the maturing years of my older brother Berry Lee, Jr., our sister Marilyn and me.

My brother Berry Lee (Bubba) joined Pop in a general medical practice in 1957 after he completed his internship at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and had served 2 years in the US Air Force at Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile, Alabama. Bubba learned the skills of a few surgical procedures such as Caesarean section, hernia repair and skin lesion removal but generally left surgical procedures to Pop and he assisted him in the OR when necessary.

Their practice location was on the second floor in the Masonic Building in downtown El Dorado on the west side of the square. Granddad was the Worshipful Master of the Masonic lodge responsible for constructing the building in the 1930’s. As a young boy visiting my Pop’s and brother’s clinic, I recall the odors of a medical office filling my nostrils upon climbing the first steps of the Masonic building. Near the end of Pop’s life in the early 1960’s plans were being made to build a new clinic on Grove Street situated between the two hospitals, Warner Brown Hospital and Union County Medical Center (now Medical Center of South Arkansas). The clinic was completed and dedicated several months following Pop’s death from heart disease in January, 1966.

I completed my surgical training at Charity Hospital in New Orleans in 1969, and was required to spend 2 years in the U.S. Air Force in Valdosta, Georgia. In 1971 Cathy and I moved to El Dorado where I joined Bubba in The Moore Clinic on Grove Street. My practice was primarily general surgical, but because I was associated with Bubba, I also did some general medicine in addition and shared night calls and weekend calls with him.

I continued in this practice model until 1974 when I joined The Surgical Clinic of South Arkansas with 3 other general surgeons. In this new setting I limited my practice to general surgery exclusively. Both Bubba and I agreed this would be a better situation in that other family practitioners would be more likely to refer their surgical patients to me. Bubba continued referring all of his surgical patients to me, and he was freed from the responsibility of assisting me in the operating room on the more complicated procedures.

In 1977 when Cathy and I had a spiritual conversion to make Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, our lives were transformed in every respect. Bubba, who was a dynamic and witnessing Christian was instrumental in our faith conversion, and he offered to mentor me in my role as a Christian who served and ministered in the practice of medicine. This was an entirely new life and lifestyle for me because in all my prior years I had never seen a physician who ministered Christ and Christ-like attributes to his patients. For the next 22 years while living and practicing in El Dorado along-side Bubba, he poured his wisdom and encouragement into me. When we moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2000 and then to Branson, Missouri in 2005 my medical practice was in wound care exclusively and no longer in general surgery. Bubba and I continued to talk regularly with each other by phone and occasional visits, and he continued mentoring me until his departure from earth on August 7, 2009. He had retired from medical practice in 2000 in order to care for his wife LaNell who had developed an illness requiring his close attention.

The 3 generations of Moore’s practicing medicine in El Dorado continued uninterrupted from 1898 to 2000, while the 4th generation of physicians in the family had begun serving and ministering in Texas beginning in the 1980’s.

— to be continued:

Dr John

 

 

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