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I have been asked to and will try to review the history of medicine in the town of Bernice. A portion of the history is based on my personal memory but much of the early history is based on a review of information on record in the Bernice Depot Museum.
It was my understanding that Dr. J. L. Dendy, who came from the Pisgah community, was the first physician in Bernice. According to records available he was born in 1860, was married to a lady whose first name was Vada, and he sired several children, only two of whom survived. Dr. Dendy was the brother of Larkin Melton Dendy (father of Larkin Brooks Dendy, Hansel Dendy, Floyd Dendy, John Lee Dendy, Lillie Coplen Kimbel, Pink Bennett, Elvie (Mrs. Otis) Elliott, Eliese Fitzgerald and Lucille. He is listed as being on the visiting committee for school in Bernice August 1907. Mrs. Jimmie (Sim) Harris is reported to have been one of his home deliveries.
A flyer is also present in the museum, which list Robert P. Jackson with offices over the drug store in the Roberson building with telephone #16. I cannot find anything else related to this person.
Dr. George Carroll, originally from Spearsville, was also one of the early physicians in Bernice. He married Miss Annie Talbot who was born November 14, 1879, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. M.A. Talbot. I cannot find records to determine how long he was in practice here.
I believe Dr. David B. Garland was the next physician who came to Bernice. He was born March 27, 1861 and died August 23, 1931. His wife, Mrs. Daisy Garland is listed as third assistant in many of the early school records and taught many of us who still survive.
Dr. Green Lyle Talbot, DDS, son of Mr. & Mrs. M.A. Talbot was the first dentist in Bernice. He was born February 2, 1887 and died January 11, 1932 and is buried in the Bernice Cemetery.
Dr. Oscar E. Glover, born May 14, 1872 in Weldon Community and died March 3, 1937, was a graduate of Tulane Medical School. (Father of Fred, James, Prentice, Dean, and George Glover (only surviving child). He began his practice in Bernice in 1909 with an office in the Roberson Building also. The Roberson building was located on the north side of Main Street at highway 167 and was where Pepper Green now has a used care agency. He later was located in the Masonic Building, which was built in 1927. The remainder of his practice was at that location.
Dr. M.W. Lawrence, Sr. came to Bernice and began his practice of Dentistry. Initially his office was in the Roberson building, then over Miller’s Drug Store and finally in 1927 moved over the Hicks store in the Masonic building. At that time Dr. C.C. Colvin and Dr. O.E. Glover had offices there. Dr. M.W. Lawrence, Sr. was born in 1884 and died in 1967 and is buried in the Bernice Cemetery. He attended and graduated from Atlanta Dental College, which later became Atlanta Southern Dental College and later became Emory University Dental College. Dr. Lawrence married Miss. Marjorie Heard, niece of Governor Heard, who had moved from Shiloh to Bernice and was the Music teacher at the Bernice School. They had Miller Wycliff Lawrence, Jr. who later became the third Dentist in Bernice.
Dr. Clyde Calhoun Colvin who came from the Culbertson Community, born August 23, 1884, attended school in Culbertson and graduated from Tulane Medical School in 1909. He first began practice in Tannehill near Winnfield and moved to Bernice and lived at the home of Mrs. Jeanie Fuller and married her daughter Vera. He along with Dr. Garland and Dr. Lawrence first had offices in the Roberson buildings; then over the C.E. Miller Drug Store and in 1927 had his office in the Masonic Building along with Dr. M.W. Lawrence and O.E. Glover. He remained there until 1950 when the construction of the Colvin and Reeves Clinic and Hospital was completed and he practiced there until retirement about 1956 after fifty years of practice.
Dr. Jessie Tanner who came the Weldon Community attended Tulane University and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1909. He went to the University of California in Los Angeles and received special training in Eye, Ears, Nose and Throat. He had an office in the Bernhart building in Monroe where he met and married Miss. Annie Stuckey. They moved to Weldon Community and lived with his parents until the death of his mother. He practiced in the Weldon Community and there delivered Irene and Inez Foust, his first twin deliveries. In 1937 he moved into an office in the Masonic building in Bernice. He practiced for a total of 63 years, nine years of which he was coroner for Union Parish. Dr. Tanner died October 24, 1972 with cancer of the stomach and is buried in the Hebron Cemetery.
Dr. Author Edwards entered the practice of medicine in Bernice with Dr. Colvin about 1937 and remained here for a few years. He was married to Fredda Voss from Dubach. They had built a two-story home on highway two at the west edge of Bernice, which later became the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Colvin and still remains.
Dr. M.W. Lawrence, Jr. first came to the Bernice School System as coach for all sports, then went to Atlanta Southern Dental School and returned to Bernice as a Dentist about 1938. He had offices in the Masonic building until about 1950 when he had his dental clinic on Main Street in Bernice where he practiced until an automobile accident caused him to have to close his practice of dentistry.
W.C. Reeves, M.D. worked for Dr. C.C. Colvin during the summer of his junior and senior years of medical school and after graduation from LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans did his postgraduate training at Confederate Memorial Hospital in Shreveport. He joined Dr. Colvin in Bernice on July 14, 1949. During the time he was in Shreveport Dr. Colvin and the father of Dr. Reeves purchased the old Baptist Church; plans were for the establishment of offices and a small hospital there. Before the completion of this building, Dr. Reeves did home deliveries some of which were John Baldwin, Monte Smith, Linda Kelley, Alton Harris and about twenty others. During that interval he recalls doing a delivery in the Corinth Community one night at which there was no large lantern or candle and he had to use his car lights to have any light at all. If anything could be an incentive for a hospital that was it.
The Bernice Clinic and Hospital opened on May 21, 1950. Dr. Reeves was married to Helen Rose Crow on the following Sunday at Marion, Louisiana. They had four children Carol Rose, Kent, Laura and Lisa.
For the next several years Dr. C.C. Colvin and Dr. Reeves operated the Bernice Clinic and Hospital. When Dr. Colvin had completed fifty years of practice he announced to Dr. Reeves that he was retiring. He never saw another patient. For a period of time Dr. Tanner and Dr. Reeves were the only practicing physicians in Bernice. Trying were the times. Dr. Peter Carroll, leaving the Air Force, came into practice with Dr. Reeves and remained here until 1973 when he moved to El Dorado. Again Dr. Reeves was left alone to operate the Clinic and Hospital. He had some night and weekend physicians from LSU Hospital in Shreveport.
After a period of time, Dr. Tom Mong came to the Clinic and Hospital and stayed until the arrival of Dr. Hui, both Chinese in ancestor, when Dr. Mong left and went to Columbia. Dr. Hui was present for one year on a work visa and then returned to Canada.
Again Dr. Reeves was left alone to operate the clinic and hospital and in 1973 left Bernice to work at Green Clinic and later at Little Rock V.A. Hospital a total of ten months. During that period Dr. Zambranna, then Dr. Alan Herbert and Dr. Temple Douglas followed by Dr. Oliver Fletcher were here. Dr. Reeves returned after ten months and worked with Dr. Fletcher until he decided to move to Birmingham, Alabama to practice emergency medicine.
Dr. Reeves again worked the Clinic and hospital alone until Dr. Hadar worked for one year until Dr. Pam Hearn came and worked with him for several years and then moved to Ruston to practice at the Rehab Hospital. Dr. Nur Badshah came and remained for several years after that.
The next several years were a nightmare. During that interval, Dr. Duthil and Dr. Ashrafi came each of which remained for one year.
Dr. Ron Bryce came for a ten-year contract but left after a few months after a ten-day notice.
Dr. Reeves, who thought he had retired, had to return to work. After several months alone Dr. Pernell Simone joined him, who was suppose to be joined by Dr. Kent Humble but this did not materialize. During that interval a new clinic building had been erected by the Town of Bernice and is yet occupied. Residents provided night and weekend coverage from LSU on Shreveport.
Drs. Brian Harris and Mark Shaw came to work at Tri-Ward Hospital and Clinic in 1999. Dr. Reeves retired and those two fine physicians have continued to stay.
A portion of the hospital was leased to the Bernice Rehabilitation Hospital and they continue to operate a portion of the hospital building.
After an automobile accident, Dr. Lawrence was never able to return to full practice. He had visiting dentist for a period of time and later Dr. Park Phillips, DDS, came and maintained an office for several years and left.
- W.C. Reeves, M.D.
In late 2009, Tri-Ward General Hospital commenced a campaign to make drastic improvements in services, technologies, and staff as part of a recommitment to providing the highest quality patient care possible and significantly increased access to a wider variety of specialty services. As part of this process, on October 1, 2010, Tri-Ward General Hospital became Reeves Memorial Medical Center.
The renaming of the hospital is a signal of positive change and development by the organization. The commitment to a change such as this is a testament to the character that encompasses the moral center of the organization. We continue our pursuit of excellence at a higher standard than ever before. However, during implementation of changes already made, as well as for those to come, it is vital that the identity of the organization is not lost. The vision and legacy bestowed upon this institution by one man must remain the foundation upon which the organization is built. It is for this reason that there is only one appropriate name that is deserving of such an honor.
Dr. William Calvin Reeves was born August 2, 1924, in Bernice, Louisiana, and was a lifelong resident of Bernice. He graduated from Bernice High School, and Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, now Louisiana Tech University. He attended the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, graduating in 1949. He completed an internship at Confederate Memorial Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. He then returned to Bernice in 1948 to begin private practice. He entered the U.S. Army and served as a Lieutenant Medical Officer in Japan during the Korean War.
Dr. Reeves was a co-founder of the Bernice Clinic and Hospital, currently known as Tri-Ward General Hospital. His vision for the healthcare of his community led him with other community leaders to build the Pinecrest Manor Nursing Home. He served his community with long hours of caring, practicing medicine for over fifty years. During his distinguished medical career, Dr. Reeves served as president of the Louisiana Academy of Family Practice. In 2000, he was recognized for his service, receiving the Louisiana Rural Healthcare Association Recognition of Lifetime Achievement and Service as a rural physician. He was fondly referred to by his colleagues as "the country cardiologist.” Dr. Reeves was a member of the American Medical Association and the Louisiana State Medical Society and on the Board of Commissioners of Tri-Ward General Hospital.
Beyond his accomplishments as a physician and leader of this organization, it is his character, his vision, and his overall legacy that remain today as a testament of who this man truly is. Dr. Reeves represents the gold standard for these qualities in the minds of those that remember him. Because of the example that he left for those of us that have followed, it is with great respect, admiration, and enthusiasm that we humbly bestow this honor on Dr. Reeves and his family for their commitment and sacrifices for over fifty years on behalf of the organization and communities that we serve.
Reeves Memorial Medical Center continues to strive toward excellence in quality, service, and compassion on behalf of those we serve.