Dr. Leila Daughtry Denmark, retired pediatrician and one of the world's oldest people, died April 1, 2012, at the home of her daughter in Athens. Dr. Denmark was born on Feb. 1, 1898, in Portal, Bulloch County, the third of the 12 children of Elerbee and Alice Hendricks Daughtry. She was predeceased by her husband, John Eustace Denmark; sisters, Eva, Myrtice, Ruth, Pearl, and Kathleen; and brothers, Arthur, Grady, Reedy, Clyde, Curtis, and George.
Dr. Denmark completed high school at the First District A and M School in Statesboro, now Georgia Southern University. She attended Bessie Tift College and graduated in 1922 and did further college work at Mercer University. Following two years of teaching high school science, she enrolled in the Medical College of the University of Georgia, now the Medical College of Georgia, receiving her M.D. degree in 1928.
Shortly after graduation she married Mr. Denmark and moved to Atlanta where, following some volunteer work in hospital wards at Grady Hospital and at the Central Presbyterian Church Baby Clinic, she became the first resident of the newly opened Henrietta Egleston Hospital for Children, now Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and admitted its first patient. Following the birth of her daughter, Mary, Dr. Denmark opened her practice of pediatrics in her home in Atlanta in 1931 and continued in practice until her retirement in 2001 at the age of 103. At the time of her retirement she was the oldest practicing physician in the United States.
Besides her devotion to her patients over a period of more than 70 years, Dr. Denmark enjoyed her family, going to the opera, gardening, sewing, reading, and the occasional game of golf. Over the years, Dr. Denmark received a number of awards and some of these are the Fisher Award in 1935 for outstanding research in diagnosis, treatment, and immunization of whooping cough; selection as Atlanta's Woman of the Year in 1953; alumni awards from Tift College, Mercer University, Georgia Southern and the Medical College of Georgia; honorary degrees from Tift College, Mercer University, and Emory University; the Shining Light Award from Atlanta Gas Light Company; and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Dr. Denmark was a member of the American Medical Association, the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta. In the early 1970s, Dr. Denmark published a book setting down her ideas on the care and rearing of children, "Every Child Should Have a Chance," now in its 14th printing.
Survivors include her daughter, Mary Denmark Hutcherson of Athens; two grandsons and their wives, Steven and Stephanie Hutcherson of Atlanta, James and Karen Hutcherson of Evergreen, Colo.; and two great-grandchildren, Jake and Hayden Hutcherson of Evergreen.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, April 5, at 1 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Athens with burial in the Portal Cemetery Friday, April 6, at 11 a.m. The family will receive friends from 6-9 p.m. at the funeral home on Wednesday, April 4, and immediately following the service on Thursday.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial gifts may be made to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation, 1687 Tullie Circle, NE, Atlanta, GA 30329, or to the Medical College of Georgia Foundation, 1120 15th Street, Augusta, GA 30912.
For further information about Dr. Denmark, go to her Website, www.drleiladenmark.com.
Lord and Stephens East Chapel is in charge of arrangements.