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Dr. Alfred Raymond Gould

Dr. Alfred Raymond Gould, long-time resident and icon of West Feliciana Parish, died in his sleep on Saturday, September 08, 2012, in Sugar Land, Texas, of Alzheimer's disease. He was 84. Doc, as he was known to all, was a gifted healer, who practiced medicine his own way – slowly and thoroughly. He knew his patients, their families, and their medical histories well, and went far beyond the physical aspects of medicine, to care for his patients in a way that is virtually unheard of today. From his small office on Gould Street in St. Francisville, he dispensed medicine and counsel to multiple generations of young and old. Unlike most medical practices today, he did not have scheduled appointments, but saw people in the order they arrived, taking as long as necessary to ensure that each one got the attention he or she deserved. He often said that his greatest diagnostic tool was his ability to listen to his patients. He was a holistic practitioner, focusing on the well-being of the whole person, long before that term became fashionable. Always a gentleman, he treated everyone with respect and dignity regardless of their financial status, ethnicity or social standing. He never let the inability to pay stand in the way of complete, quality care, and routinely treated many people at no charge including clergy, high school sports teams, and others. Often, he would decide to treat a patient at no charge, and rather than refuse payment, he would simply not deposit the check. After he retired, his family found a stack of many of these checks in his desk drawer. He was always cheerful and ready to tell a joke or a story. As a member of the First Baptist Church for many years, he lived his faith consistently, and enjoyed singing in the choir although with no formal musical training, and assisting the church in whatever capacity was needed. He was an avid runner and could often be seen running along Highway 61, or on the school track. Eventually he had to stop running on the highway because so many people stopped and asked him if he needed a ride. Doc joked that he was always assured of coming in first or second in any race because there was only one other person in his age category. In 1996, he was honored to be one of the runners who carried the Olympic torch when it passed through the area. He kept his torch until his death, and proudly showed it to everyone. He finally retired from his medical practice in 2006, and as his health and Barbara's began to decline, the townspeople for whom he had cared returned the favor, enabling him and his wife to remain in the community as long as possible. Eventually, as Alzheimer's took its toll, he moved to an assisted living facility in Sugar Land, Texas, so he could be near family. Doc was born in New Orleans, on May 24, 1928, the son of Dr. Harley Nathan Gould and Dr. Mary Raymond Gould. His father was Professor Emeritus and head of the biology department at Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans. His mother was a physician and anesthesiologist at Mercy Hospital, at a time when few women were in the medical field. After his parents divorced, his mother married Dr. Philip Neibergall, another physician, and the family moved to St. Francisville. He graduated from Metairie Park Country Day School in Metairie, Louisiana, in 1946, and attended the University of Illinois from 1946 to 1950, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a minor in Humanities in 1950. He graduated from Tulane Medical School in New Orleans in 1954, and performed post-graduate studies at Harvard University School of Medicine. On Christmas Eve 1952, he married the former Barbara Baird, daughter of Hal and Goldie Lou Baird, and they had five children, all sons. After serving two years as a Senior Assistant Surgeon in the United States Coast Guard, he returned to St. Francisville in 1957 to practice medicine with his stepfather, Dr. Niebergall. When Dr. Niebergall retired in 1963, Doc became the only practicing physician in West Feliciana Parish for about eight years. Doc, along with Dr. Niebergall, worked for many years to create a hospital for the parish, and he was instrumental in raising funds to build West Feliciana Parish Hospital which opened in 1970 and still serves the parish today. For many years he served as its Chief of Staff and, at various times, every other medical position. For several years, he also served as a staff physician at the Louisiana War Vets Home in Jackson. He was coroner for West Feliciana Parish for many years, and was chosen as Citizen of the Year in 1997 by the West Feliciana Civic Association. In 2004, he was given the Lifetime Achievement award by the Louisiana State Rural Medical Association. He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Mary Louise Gould; and a grandson, Benjamin Barrett Gould. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Baird Gould; his five sons, Alfred R. "Ray" Gould Jr., Phillips Brooks Gould, Harley Nathan Gould II, Hal William Gould and David Wallace Gould. He is also survived by eleven grandchildren, Jennifer Louise Gould Thomas, Melissa Susan Gould Walkup, Chancellor Daniel Gould, Anita Colleen Gould, Samantha Kristin Gould Prest, Madison Alexandra Gould, Connor David Gould, Olivia Karlyn Gould, Bradley Nicholas Gould, Hunter Brooks Gould, and Lauren Elizabeth Gould; and one great-grandson, Benjamin James Thomas. A celebration of his life was held on Saturday, September 22, 2012, at the First Baptist Church of St. Francisville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the at http://act.alz.org/goto/DGould or the First Baptist Church in St. Francisville, La.

Published in TheAdvocate.com from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7, 2012
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