On what would have been his 104th birthday, the University Health Care Foundation honored Dr. W.G. “Curly” Watson by presenting the first “Curly Awards” on Tuesday night at the North Augusta Municipal Building.
Dr. William E. Barfield Jr. and Dr. Michel M. McDonough were co-recipients of the inaugural award.
“Dr. Barfield and Dr. McDonough embody everything that Dr. Watson stood for,” Laurie Ott, the president of University Health Care Foundation, said. “They’re two fine physicians but even better men. I don’t think anyone deserves the inaugural Curly Awards more than they do.”
Watson – who died at age 102 on Oct. 24, 2012 – practiced obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospital for 64 years.
He was estimated to have delivered 15,000 babies.
“Dr. Watson was a giant of a man, a giant of a physician, and words can’t describe the impact he made on our community,” Ott said. “He could have practiced anywhere in the country but chose to stay at University. He might not be with us anymore, but his presence is felt every day at University Hospital.”
As for the Curly Award recipients, Barfield, 69, has practiced gynecology at University Hospital since 1976, and names Dr. Watson as his medical mentor.
Barfield and Watson each graduated from The Citadel – Barfield in 1966 and Watson in 1931.
“This is the greatest honor I’ve ever received,” Barfield said. “I’m truly speechless. This is an award that I’ll treasure forever and couldn’t be more honored and humbled.”
McDonough, 49, who has practiced obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospital since 1995, was delivered by Dr. Watson.
“To even be considered for such an award is incredible,” McDonough said. “Dr. Watson taught me so much about what it means to be a patient advocate.”
Watson, who was notorious for dodging award banquets, graduated from Medical College of Georgia and was honored by his alma mater with the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Watson was the chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University, where he began practicing in 1947.
“If Dr. Watson was here tonight he’d say, ‘You don’t need to do this,’ ” North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones said of the banquet. “But we do. He was a great man of service and a man of kind words.”