I wish to thank Augusta Chronicle Publisher William S. Morris III for his courage and leadership in taking a stand in holding to our historical roots. I and my family also have a long association with higher education in Augusta and Georgia.
My great-uncle G. Lombard Kelly, M.D., was the Medical College of Georgia’s first president. He, along with Georgia Govs. Eugene Talmadge and Herman Talmadge – and with great support from our leaders in Augusta – fought the Board of Regents successfully from relocating the Medical College of Georgia to Atlanta.
He and his family served this community well in many ways. He and his wife – my aunt – would give young medical students a place in their home to live for their years in medical school when lodging was not as easily obtained. Among them were James Bennett, James Kay and many more. My aunt Mrs. Kelly and her sister – my grandmother – started a tearoom called the Alumni Tavern, as there were no eating establishments nearby. This gave the students a place to eat, and some worked in the tearoom to pay for their food.
As a lad, I remember many happy days in that tearoom and on that campus, and looking up to those bright young doctors-to-be. They became a second family. So many stayed in Augusta to practice and became good friends. These memories are dear and helped develop a strong sense of community.
My hope is that we will honor these great men who went before us with a name befitting their hard work and our heritage. We are not that far from our original roots – let’s not pull them up to be lost and remembered no more.