Revered physician and dedicated Athenian Goodloe Yancey Erwin, 94, died peacefully at home on Sunday, October 20th. He was born on June 14, 1919 in Athens, the son of Howell Cobb Erwin and Lucy Grattan Yancey. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Goodloe Harper Yancey. A retired internist and cardiologist, Dr. Erwin was recognized in 1994 by the American Heart Association, which stated that it would be difficult to find anyone who had contributed more to improved cardiology treatment locally than Dr. Goodloe Erwin. He was a careful and caring healer, a wonderful citizen, a promoter of and contributor to everything positive about Athens, a devoted husband, father, uncle, grandfather and friend and mentor to so many.
Dr. Erwin was graduated from the University of Georgia with a B. S. in chemistry in 1940. At the University, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, ODK Honor Society, Phi Kappa Literary Society, Blue Key and the SAE Fraternity. In 1943, he was graduated from Emory University's School of Medicine, following which he served his internship at Atlanta's Grady Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital of Salt Lake City. He joined the United States Army, and Lieutenant Erwin was a doctor in the Army Medical Corps at the Third Army Ski School immediately following World War II in the Alps Mountains at Garmisch, Germany, where he met his future wife, Patricia Graham, of Merced, California. In 1948, Goodloe Erwin returned home to begin his distinguished 40-year career in internal medicine in Athens.
Dr. Erwin was predeceased by his sister Lucy Deupree Erwin, a sister Mary Lamar Erwin (Mrs. John Q.) West and a brother Howell Cobb Erwin, Jr. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Patricia Graham Erwin, along with the couple's four children: Alex Erwin and his wife Carol of Decatur, Ga.; Graham Erwin of Houston, Texas; Leslie Erwin Moose and husband David of Newton, North Carolina and Catharine Erwin of Athens. Also surviving are five grandchildren: Michael Erwin of Boston, Mass.; Kristen Erwin Castagno of Tucker, Ga.; Ben Moose and Christopher Moose of Newton, N.C. and Lucy Haskill of Los Angeles.
Over the years, Dr. Erwin has held many important positions professionally as well as in civic affairs and has received numerous recognitions for his good works. He served as president of the Georgia Heart Association, president of the Society of Internal Medicine and president of the Georgia Lung Association. Besides his full-time practice, he was on the medical staff of St. Mary's Hospital and established the first coronary care unit at old Athens General Hospital, now ARMC. He helped organize the Athens Heart Clinic that served indigent heart patients. and he was instrumental in setting up the coronary care program at the University's Sanford Stadium. Dr. Erwin once said that before this service was begun, there was an average of one heart attack at every football game, and most of the sufferers died. After the coronary care unit was established at Sanford Stadium, most heart attack victims there lived.
In his youth and student days, Goodloe Erwin was a splendid athlete, excelling especially in swimming. As a high school senior, he won the Georgia High School Association championships in both the 100- and 40-yard freestyle swimming events. He served as captain of the University's varsity swimming team in 1940. As an ROTC Advanced Cavalry student at Georgia, he won the silver loving cup for being the best equestrian in 1939. At the University of Georgia, he anchored the 400-yard freestyle relay teams, which won the SEC championship and set a conference record in 1939. In 2004 he was inducted into the Athens Athletic Hall of Fame. In his 80s, Dr. Erwin still swam four or five times a week and golfed twice a week at the Athens Country Club. He competed in the Golden Olympics and won five gold medals in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events. In 2003 he was selected for "Who's Who" in Golden Olympics for the United States.
Among his civic involvements, Dr. Erwin was perhaps most prominent as the forceful and creative president of the Athens Historical Society. Keenly interested in the story of Athens and Georgia, he launched and oversaw many successful projects in the Society, including the launching of "The Historian," a yearly publication from Athens Historical.
Dr. Erwin was a contributing member of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, the Athens Country Club, the Athens City Club and the First Baptist Church of Athens.
Goodloe Yancey Erwin was the last member of his generation in a prominent Athens family, the last survivor of the nine grandchildren of Judge Alexander Erwin and his wife Mary Ann Lamar Cobb, daughter of Athenian Howell Cobb, who was governor of Georgia, Speaker of the U.S. House, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and a Confederate general. One admirer of Dr. Erwin told the family this week, "An important link to an anchor generation is gone." Goodloe Erwin always continued the family tradition of good citizenship and public service.
The family would like to give special thanks to their father's wonderful caregivers.
The graveside funeral will be held at Oconee Hill Cemetery at 3:00 on Sunday, October 27th with Dr. Jon Appleton officiating. For those wishing to make a memorial donation, Dr. Erwin's choice is the Athens YMCA, 915 Hawthorne Avenue, Athens 30606.
Bridges Funeral Home, Athens, is in charge of the arrangements.
Bridges Funeral Home, Inc.
3035 Atlanta Highway Athens, GA 30606
Published in Athens Banner-Herald on Oct. 24, 2013