Originally created 03/15/04

Radiology pioneer's legacy is extensive



The walls of Dr. Stephen W. Brown's study tell stories.

They tell stories of his pioneer work in radiology in Augusta, too many to enumerate and too many for him to keep up with.

The walls are filled with proclamations and plaques.

"That's a gold medal for my work in radiology," he said. "I was a consultant for the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.

"I did a lot of work on radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism and for cancer of the thyroid when I was a consultant for the institute of nuclear studies," he said.

Dr. Brown implemented Augusta's first lumpectomy and radiation therapy treatments for breast cancer, an alternative to radical mastectomies.

He established the Augusta Radiation Therapy Center that provided therapy for Aiken County Hospital, University Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Doctors Hospital and other small area hospitals.

The center eventually moved into University Hospital. Later, Dr. Brown, then-hospital administrator Ed Gillespie and authority Chairman Harry Jernigan saw the need to expand. With the help of state Rep. Jack Connell, who was able to get a large state appropriation, the facility became the Georgia Radiation Therapy Center and was moved to the Medical College of Georgia.

The walls of Dr. Brown's study also tell the story of a man who loved golf and was on a committee of the 2001 Masters Golf Tournament as a member of the Augusta National.

A watercolor of the old Beech Island Ferry tells the story of his roots. His great-grandfather Jonathan Miller owned the ferry and later bought a house at Goodale Landing because his children had trouble getting across the river to school during bad weather. Later on, he moved to Greene Street in Augusta.

Mr. Miller lived to be 100 years old, and in 1910 Judge Henry C. Hammond fired a cannon without cannonballs 100 times on Broad Street.

Dr. Brown, who turned 90 on Feb. 22, was born in Hawkinsville, Ga. His father died during an influenza epidemic when he was 4 years old, and his mother moved back to her home in Milledgeville, Ga.

Although she had graduated from the New York Conservatory of Music, she wasn't sure she could make a living in music, so she studied stenography and business.

"She got a job at GMC (Georgia Military College) as executive secretary and eventually wound up a business manager, and the business suite is known as the Elizabeth Bivins Brown Business Suite," he said.

Dr. Brown decided early on what he wanted to be. After graduating from Georgia Military College, he attended medical school at Louisiana State University. He went into the Army in 1941, during World War II.

In 1942, he married Avis Margaret Moate, of Devereaux, Ga., which he says was his proudest moment. Mrs. Brown died two years ago.

He began practicing radiology in Augusta in 1950 and was a member of the medical staff at University Hospital for more than 42 years. He also was a member of the staffs of St. Joseph's Hospital, Humana Hospital, Burke County Hospital and McDuffie County Hospital and was an associate clinical professor of radiology at the Medical College of Georgia.

He also consulted in radiology for many years at the Margaret J. Weston Medical Center in Clearwater at no charge.

He retired from medicine in 1986 but continued to play golf, hunt quail and train bird dogs. Arthritis has forced him to give up golf, but he still goes pheasant hunting in South Dakota each October.

Since his wife died, three retired women take care of him.

He still goes to his office occasionally, mostly for personal rather than professional matters.

"He dictates and writes a lot of letters," said Jean Wright, one of his caretakers.

Dr. Brown also owns a farm in Burke County and is on the board of SunTrust Bank in Augusta.

Sometimes, Mrs. Wright said, they drive to Waynesboro, Ga., just to eat fried chicken in Mobley's Restaurant.

She describes Dr. Brown as a good person whose character has always been beyond reproach.

"He's very kind and gentle in spite of the fact he's always right," she said.

Dr. Brown said he plans to write a book about his life but doesn't want to talk about it for fear he might not get around to it.

So for now, the walls and friends will tell his story.

Radiology pioneer's legacy is extensive

Age: 90

Occupation: Retired radiologist; member of the medical staff at University Hospital for more than 42 years, serving as chief of the radiology department from 1955-86; founder of the Brown School of Radiology Technology at University Hospital; helped lobby former Georgia Gov. Herman Talmadge for state money to build the Medical College of Georgia, formerly Eugene Talmadge Memorial Hospital

Other distinguished positions: past president of the Georgia Radiological Society, the Richmond County Medical Society, the radiological division of the Southern Medical Association and 1969 president of the American Roentgen Ray Society, the oldest X-Ray society in the world

Honors and awards: 1987 American Roentgen Ray Society Award for Distinguished Service to Radiology

Family: Wife, Avis Moate Brown, deceased; two daughters, Dr. Avis Yount and Margaret Swift; son, Stephen W. Brown Jr.; six grandchildrenQuote: "I'm just a low-key, dedicated person to medicine and citizenship."

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.