|Just what the doctor ordered
Dr. Lloyd Marshall’s house calls came with compassion, common sense
By DARREL RADFORD
Long before American health care became entangled with thousands of pages regulating it, there was a plain-spoken, homespun country doctor named Lloyd Marshall.
He had no computer, no fancy equipment and wasn’t on any preferred provider list. What he did have, however, was compassion, common sense and an uncommon ability to remember details.
Sulphur Springs resident Mike Burch, a retired automobile salesman and former long-time Prairie Township trustee, knew the good doctor quite well. Marshall was his grandfather.
“He never kept any records, just kept everything right here,” Burch said, pointing to his head. “He probably delivered 8,000 babies.”
If readers don’t remember Dr. Marshall, perhaps they recall his son, the late Miles Marshall, who was a former publisher of The Henry County News Republican and wrote a popular column called “The Rose City Rambler.” Miles was also a two-term Henry County clerk and an eloquent public speaker.
Archives at the Henry County Historical Society reveal the affection many county residents had for Dr. Marshall, who was a Mount Summit physician for more than 50 years. Ruth Stamper wrote a tribute to Marshall, who interrupted his Christmas one year to help her son, who had fallen and lacerated his ear.
“My phone call caught Dr. Marshall on his front porch, locking the door, as he and Mrs. Marshall departed for their Christmas holiday,” Stamper wrote. “The fact that he went back and answered the phone speaks eloquently of his devotion to duty. He must have longed to ignore the phone and go to his much-deserved rest. However, 20 minutes later, he was sitting in our living room, sewing up John’s ear … so precise was his work that John had only a small, slightly thickened scar to show his children.”
That was an example of Dr. Marshall’s unselfish nature. Below is a tribute written by Burch that shows the good doctor’s compassion.
I’m writing about my grandfather who was a country doctor from 1913 until 1963 when he passed away. He was beloved by many and I’m going to tell just one of the many things I learned from him.
We lived in Mount Summit, a small Midwestern town of about 500 people. My granddad doctored in many of the small towns and several of the surrounding counties around us — especially during World War II.
In his later years, he had severe diabetes which had affected his eyesight. At this time he would still make evening house calls. One fall evening, I was called to drive him on a house call. I always enjoyed this time alone with my granddad.
After several miles of driving on gravel roads, we turned up on a long winding lane to an old farmhouse that had seen its better days. Three big snapping dogs followed us to the front door, which we were greeted by the man of the house who looked so distraught and worried. His wife and four small children were so sick with the flu.
My granddad tended to them for the next two hours. He instructed the man to make them chicken broth and have them take cold baths. He told the man we’d be back the next evening to see how they were doing.
The man, with much relief on his face, asked my granddad “Well, doc, how much do I owe you?”
Granddad looked him straight in the eye and told him that 50 cents would pay the bill. The man paid him and thanked us for coming to help his family.
This was the fall of 1958 and with the wisdom of a 17-year-old who knew the value of the dollar bill, I wondered why granddad only charged him 50 cents. We were driving his old Packard car which used a lot of gas and, after all, we would be away for at least three hours.
So I asked my granddad why he only charged the man 50 cents. I explained to him that it didn’t pay for his gas, medicine or time.
Granddad explained to me he had taken an oath to care for and help people who were ill and that he had always done so throughout his medical profession.
About the money, granddad said the man had lots of problems with his farm, times were hard and he really didn’t have the money to pay anything for the services.
I then said, with some sarcasm, “Then why charge him any money at all if he was so bad off?”
My granddad then told me something that I’ve never forgotten to this day. He said, son, that man has his pride. He saw to it that his family was taken care of and he paid the bill. By doing this, he was able to save his pride. “I fulfilled my oath and he was able to save his pride,” my granddad said.
I’ve never forgotten this lesson of life and I’ve always tried my best to follow the lesson from granddad, the late Dr. Lloyd C. Marshall.
The Henry County Historical Society currently has a display on local doctors of the past, including Dr. Marshall. Museum hours are 1 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more Henry County history, visit the museum’s website at www.henrycountyhs.org.