Health Care

More | | | Editor

Doctor likely to work, then celebrate 100th

  • Follow Health

Nurse Leslie Rice and the staff at Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Augusta had an unusual problem recently.

Back | Next
University Hospital says Dr. W.G. "Curly" Watson is the oldest practicing physician in the nation.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
University Hospital says Dr. W.G. "Curly" Watson is the oldest practicing physician in the nation.

"Nobody carries cards that say '100,' " she told Dr. W.G. "Curly" Watson, who just laughed. They finally found one birthday card at one store that fit the bill.

Watson turns 100 today and will likely be in his office before a big celebration at University Hospital, where he has practiced since 1947.

According to University, he is the oldest physician in the country still practicing. He is also the oldest living graduate of The Citadel, where he was top of his class in 1931.

"People think it is hard today," Watson said. "It doesn't compare with '31."

His class had been promised that its top two graduates would get jobs with a chemical company but the jobs never materialized and Watson found himself back on the farm in Edgefield working for 45 or 50 cents a day.

"All day long," he said. "From sunup to sundown."

He plowed barefoot behind a mule, saving his shoes for Sunday school.

A year later, when the football coach at Edgefield High School left, the former end for the Citadel team became its new coach and principal.

"The single wing," Watson said, smiling, a football formation he taught his team, elements of which have come back into vogue with the spread formation in college and the Wildcat formation in the NFL. Football is still a passion for Watson, who rarely misses a North Augusta High School game.

"It's a different game," he said. "It's still a great game on Friday night."

He saved up enough in seven years at Edgefield High to enroll in medical school at Medical College of Georgia in 1939. He did his residency at University and after a stint in the military ended in 1947, has never left.

The hospital estimates he delivered 15,000 babies before he finally stopped around 1996, but he kept scrubbing in for surgery until a few years ago.

He has delivered several branches of the family tree for many Augusta families. Joy Willis said that -- counting her mother, her, and her four siblings, and some in-laws -- Watson delivered at least 17 of them. She and her mother, Sabra Allen, 77, both still go to see him as patients.

"He is so kind and gentle," Willis said. "You go in there, he's genuinely concerned. He takes the time to listen to you."

And he always asks about family and knows the families well. He still sees five or six patients a day.

"Every day when I see patients, I'll have somebody say, 'I've been seeing you 50 years,' " he said.

But medicine, even the delivery of children, has changed over that time. When he started, the rate of cesarean deliveries was 3 percent to 5 percent.

"And now it's approximately 30 percent," said Watson, who is still chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University, whose Women's Center also bears his name.

The relationship with patients is a little different now, too, he said.

"You don't see as many doctors, since they have rotations, delivering their own patient, as they used to in the past," Watson said.

When one of her family went into labor, Willis said, "Dr. Watson always met us at the hospital."

Patients would stay five days to a week after a delivery -- the average is now about two days -- and it didn't end when they went home, Watson said.

"You'd make a house call if they were within 10 miles of Augusta," he said. "Now you see very few house calls."

While Watson is still going to the office, he is not seeing patients this week after falling recently and injuring a hip, which has forced him to use a walker as he leaves.

Audrey Watson, his wife of 65 years, smiles warmly at him from the doorway of his office as he scoots down the hallway.

"We've never noticed the 15 years between us," the wartime bride said, but "it bothered my mother."

Now her older man is much, much older but Watson insists he is not even thinking about retirement, waving off questions about it with a simple, "No."

In fact, his nurse said, he is still taking new patients.

Centennial celebration

University Hospital is holding a 100th birthday party for Dr. W.G. "Curly" Watson beginning at noon today in a tent on the front lawn of the hospital.

Comments (15) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Petey Aitchess
0
Points
Petey Aitchess 02/25/10 - 02:25 am
0
0
Happy Birthday, Dr Watson!

Happy Birthday, Dr Watson! Thank you for your decades of service to our community and country!

timereader
0
Points
timereader 02/25/10 - 04:46 am
0
0
HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY DR.

HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY DR. WATSON.

happychimer
19503
Points
happychimer 02/25/10 - 06:38 am
0
0
WOW! Happy Birthday.

WOW! Happy Birthday.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 02/25/10 - 07:22 am
0
0
Happy Birthday Dr. Watson

Happy Birthday Dr. Watson !!!!! You cared for my wife and delivered three beautiful healthy children for us. You even came to our home to check on my wife. Thanks you for all of your years of service to this community. Three generations in our family.

onlynaugusta
41
Points
onlynaugusta 02/25/10 - 07:42 am
0
0
Happy Birthday Dr. Watson.

Happy Birthday Dr. Watson. Can't too many people claim their 100th Birthday. You have truly been a blessing to University Hospital. Your medical techniques are remarkable. Physicians of today are not as concern with the quality of medical care they provide to their patients but more so about the quanity. Thanks for a job well done!!!!!!!

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 02/25/10 - 08:46 am
0
0
I do not know of any one who

I do not know of any one who has celebrated 100 years while still actively working. That in and of itself should go down in the history books somewhere! Happy Birthday Dr. Watson.

nofrills
0
Points
nofrills 02/25/10 - 09:44 am
0
0
What a great story! Happy

What a great story! Happy Birthday Doc! I met you last year and had no idea your history. I just enjoyed talking to you. Please consider on writing a book on your life here in the CSRA. The history we could learn from you is priceless.

nash63
22
Points
nash63 02/25/10 - 10:47 am
0
0
Happy 100th Birthday Dr.

Happy 100th Birthday Dr. Watson! God has richly blessed us all with your long and illustrious career and your kind and compassionate personality. You are an inspiration to us all. -- Lynne Morris Sturtz

Nat the Cat
1
Points
Nat the Cat 02/25/10 - 11:09 am
0
0
Dr. Watson delivered me in

Dr. Watson delivered me in 1952. I was one of nine other kittens!

JustSpeakingMyMind
203
Points
JustSpeakingMyMind 02/25/10 - 02:15 pm
0
0
Delivered me in the old

Delivered me in the old University Hospital in 1969. Also delivered my two sisters. I agree with nofrills, Dr. Watson, you should consider writing a book. What we couldn't learn from a man like you. Happy 100th Birthday!!

mable8
2
Points
mable8 02/25/10 - 02:56 pm
0
0
Happy Birthday, Dr

Happy Birthday, Dr Watson--you have been a great contributor to the community and you are much appreciated.

adlucemveritas
0
Points
adlucemveritas 02/25/10 - 03:23 pm
0
0
Best hopes that you have the

Best hopes that you have the happiest birthday yet, Dr. Watson! Though you're surely one of a kind, your thoughts and experiences would be invaluable to the rest of us and a testament to the treasure that you are. Please write these down and leave a recorded history too.

Gail Nolen Dawson
0
Points
Gail Nolen Dawson 02/25/10 - 04:33 pm
0
0
Happy Birthday Dr. Watson!

Happy Birthday Dr. Watson! You delivered me on March 22, 1957 at the University Hospital. Just yesterday, my mother had shown me the original hospital birth-certificate with my tiny footprint on it. We didn't know it was YOUR birthday while we were looking at it! You are such an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for bringing me into such a wonderful world!!

michelleadams
0
Points
michelleadams 02/25/10 - 09:57 pm
0
0
I want to be like you, Dr

I want to be like you, Dr Watson. I was telling my husband I wanted to live to be over 100, but I wanted to be working and healthy. You're an inspiration!

acourtneyvm
0
Points
acourtneyvm 04/29/10 - 01:58 pm
0
0
Congratulations Dr. Watson!

Congratulations Dr. Watson! Anyone interested in following in Dr. Watson's footsteps and pursuing a career in the medical field should check out this scholarship. The first Medical Professionals of Tomorrow Scholarship is being held for the fall 2010 semester. Applicants must submit a 500-word essay along with their online application that explains who or what inspired them to seek out a career in healthcare. The winner of the scholarship will receive a check for $1,000 to help with tuition and other expenses. Click here for more info: Medical Professionals of Tomorrow Scholarship

Back to Top

Top headlines

MCG student, class buy kids' books for Ferguson library

Three weeks after the Missouri grand jury indictment verdict, Ashee Nicole Sharer created a Ferguson wish list on BarnesAndNoble.com, urging classmates to purchase a book for the Ferguson ...
Search Augusta jobs