Originally created 08/17/02

Dr. Wilder Smith Sr. (SWAINSBORO, Ga.)

SWAINSBORO, Ga. - Peebles-Curry-Durden Mortuary announces the death of Dr. H. Wilder Smith Sr., 87, of Swainsboro on Thursday, August 15, 2002 at the Doctors Hospital in Augusta after a short illness. Funeral services will be Sunday, August 18, 2002, at 4 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church with Rev. Benjy Varnell officiating. Interment will be in the Swainsboro City Cemetery. The body will lie in state at the church from 2:30 p.m. until time of the service. Pallbearers are grandsons: De Saussure Dugas "Dessie" Smith IV, Richard Torbin Smith, Colby Isaac Smith, Thomas Ennis Bragg Jr., Ira Washington Bragg III, Mason Williams Smith Jr., Benjamin Carl Smith, George L. "Ivey" Smith IV, Taylor Harris Smith and J. D. Kirby. Honorary pallbearers are staff of Smith Rural Health Clinic and former employees of Dr. Smith. The family will receive friends at Dr. Smiths home at 625 N. Main St., Swainsboro on Saturday from 5 -8 p.m. Dr. Henry Wilder Smith was born in Stillmore, Ga. on February 16, 1915. He was the third child of Dr. DeSaussure Dugas Smith and Gladys Wilder Smith. The family moved to Swainsboro in 1917, where Dr. Dessie practiced medicine and surgery from his office in the back of Masons Pharmacy located on the Court House Square. Dr. "Wilder," as he was known to his patients, grew up in Swainsboro and graduated from Swainsboro high school in 1932. He attended Georgia Military College in Milledgeville and then transferred to the University of Georgia, where he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and president of his Junior Class. He graduated in 1938 with a BS in Chemistry. He returned to Swainsboro and after passing the Civil Service exam in 1940 was employed by the post office. During this time he met and married Leila Whitehead Williams of Monroe, who was teaching music at Swainsboro High School. They had six children and were married for thirty-seven years before her death of cancer in 1978. Dr. Smith entered medical school in 1942. When he graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1946 he became the fourth direct generation of Smiths to graduate from that institution. His youngest son, George Leon Smith III would become the fifth generation to graduate in 1979. Dr. Smiths great-grandfather Dr. Benjamin D. Smith was in the class of 1853; his grandfather Dr. George L. Smith was in the class of 1881 and his father Dr. Dessie was in the class of 1908. After doing his internship at Duval County Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, Dr. Smith moved to Swainsboro in 1947 and with his father he operated Smith Sanitarium until 1953. After his fathers death, he formed a partnership with Dr. Ennis Powell and operated Powell-Smith Hospital until 1968 when they were bought out by Emanuel County Hospital. He worked on the staff of Emanuel County Hospital practicing surgery, obstetrics and general medicine until forced to give up surgery and obstetrics in 1986 by insurance regulations. During his 40 years of obstetrics Dr. Wilder delivered a total of 5,133 babies. During his final month he delivered 26 babies. The last of these was born on September 30, 1986. During one 24-hour period in the early 1980s, he delivered seven babies, all of which were single births and four of the seven were by caesarian section. He was known for his dedication and for always putting the patient first. He was named as the Georgia Family Physician of the Year in 1986. He continued to practice family medicine from Smith Rural Health Clinic with his two sons, Wilder Jr. and Mason who are both physician assistants. He overcome a stroke in January, 1993 and continued to practice on a limited basis until his full retirement December 31, 2001. Dr. Smith was a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, recognized to handle high risk pregnancies, was instrumental in the establishment of the physician assistant program at the Medical College of Georgia and the Nurse Practitioner Program at Georgia Southern University. He served as a preceptor for PA students from MCG for nurse practitioners from Georgia Southern and medical students. He served as Chief of the OB Department of Emanuel County Hospital from 1971-1986. His military service included membership in the Georgia Militia, Commander of the Medical Detachment of the Georgia Army National Guard, an Army veteran of World War II and was mobilized with the Ga ARNG during the Korean Conflict. He was honorably discharged in 1954 with the rank of Captain. A lifelong member of Swainsboro First United Methodist Church. Dr. Smith was also manager and lifeguard of the City Pool for three years in the 1930s and the first scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 75 in 1939-40. He was president of the Swainsboro Country Club for two terms in the late 1950s, a charter member of the Exchange and Rotary Clubs of Swainsboro, a past city Physician and chairman of the County Board of Health. He was a member of the local School Board of SHS for 12 years. He was the author of the book "Memories" and founder of the Smith Medical Museum. Survivors include his wife, Oliene Hutcheson Smith of Swainsboro; one daughter, Leila Wilder "Lei" Smith Bragg of Swainsboro; four step-daughters, Sharon Kirby, Wendy Kirby and Misty Kirby, all of Swainsboro and Darlene Wommack of Metter; four sons, LTC (Ret.) De Saussure Dugas "Dess" Smith III and H. Wilder Smith Jr. of Swainsboro, Mason W. Smith of Dublin and Dr. George L. Smith III of Covington; three step-sons, William Kirby of Lyons, Wayne Kirby of Swainsboro and James Kirby of Bartow; 18 grandchildren; 10 step-grandchildren; two great-grandchildren and four step-great-grandchildren. Should friends desire, contributions may be made to the Smith Medical Museum, P.O. Box 160, Swainsboro, Ga. 30401. Peebles-Curry-Durden Mortuary in charge of arrangements for the funeral of Dr. H. Wilder Smith Sr. of Swainsboro, Ga.

The Augusta Chronicle August 17, 2002


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