Doctor and Educator
By Dr. L A. TURLEY
LlKE the fall of a great tree—
a tree beneath whose protecting branches
we have played and worked, whose beauty and majesty we have admired, a tree
which grew where it sprouted, accepting
and withstanding the forces and vicissitudes of its environment by the inherent
power of its vitality until it became a giant
of its kind, at once a landmark, an inspiration, and a symbol of triumphant
life—like the fall of such a tree is the
passing of a sincere and consecrated man.
And such was the passing of Dr. LeRoy Long from the medical service and
the medical life of Oklahoma. A skillful physician and surgeon is missing
from the ranks of those who wage the
fight against disease, and a guide and
pillar of strength is gone from the councils of organized medicine.
Dr. Long was born in Lincoln County,
North Carolina, January 1, 1869. He
was the son of William Thomas and Mary
(Burch) Long. He received his early education from private tutors and the high
school of Lowesville, North Carolina.
He took his medical training in Louisville
Medical College from which he was graduated, with first honors, in 1893. After
a year as house officer in a hospital, and
a year as a teacher in his alma mater, he
decided to practice his profession. He
chose the last frontier rather than a more
established locality as his field, so settled
in what was then Indian Territory in a
part known as the Choctaw Nation, and
began his work as a country practitioner.
In 1896 Dr. Long married Martha
Downing at Atoka. Two sons, LeRoy
Downing Long and Wendell McLean
Long, were born to this union. Both
sons have studied medicine and are practicing their profession in Oklahoma City.
After a few years as a general practitioner, Dr. Long moved to McAlester
and specialized in surgery. He continued
to practice in McAlester until he was appointed dean of the Medical School of
the University of Oklahoma in 1915, a
position which he held until he resigned
in 1931. This office necessitated his moving to Oklahoma City where he brought
his family and continued to practice surgery until his death.
As a physician Dr. Long regarded his
patient's welfare above all considerations,
even family relations. He had the hap-
Dr. LeRoy Long
py faculty of regarding a patient as a case,
and at the same time having a profound
respect for the patient as a human being.
When he walked into a sick room, his
gentle manner and great human kindliness, combined with an air of mastery,
inspired confidence and hope in the patient.
He became a Fellow of the American
College of Surgeons in 1913. He was a
member of various local and national
Dr. Long was a skillful surgeon. He
knew exactly what he intended to do.
He was master of procedures. He worked
slowly and surely. He had a profound
respect for living structures. He handled
them with a touch as delicate as a caress,
but with a sureness that was final, and
avoided unnecessary manipulation.
Dr. Long did not seek prominence nor
position yet he was often called upon to
assume responsibilities, and when he did
so he discharged them efficiently. He was
chairman of the Choctaw Board of Health
from 1899 to 1904. He was a member
of the committee of the Indian Territory
Medical Association which arranged the
consolidation of this society with the Oklahoma Territorial Medical Association to
form the Oklahoma State Medical Association. He served on the council of this
society and later was president of the so
ciety. He was a member of the State
Board of Medical Examiners, 1911-1915.
In 1915 Dr. Long was appointed dean
of the School of Medicine of the University of Oklahoma. It would have been
difficult to have found a man better qualified to take charge of the situation. The
state, newly formed from two more or
less envious and in some ways antagonistic territories, was trying to find itself.
The medical profession, while outwardly
united, was nevertheless in a state of adjustment. Medical education throughout
the United States was in a state of transition from private or denominational
to institutional schools, and from a heterogeneous to a more uniform character
with higher standards. This school, as a
four-year school granting a degree of Doctor of Medicine, was in a formative period. It was a situation when, amid fast
moving events, progress had to be made
surely if not slowly. Conservatism and
a firm grip were the qualities necessary
at the helm. These qualities Dr. Long
possessed to a remarkable degree.
To know an ethical principle was for
Dr. Long to make it part of his life, an
element of his thinking and a guide of
his actions. He was uncompromising
with any deviation from rectitude as he
saw it. He had an unquestioning faith
in those he trusted; he accepted what they
told him as the truth which he did not
investigate, and nothing but personal experience could shake this faith. This trait
made him a loyal friend who could be
relied upon at all times.
He thought things out for himself and
came to his conclusions after deliberation, rather than after consultation, and
seldom gave reasons for his decisions, yet
he was capable of quick decisions in cases
of emergency. He was extremely conservative and accepted nothing in medical
practice, or outside it, that was not proven
and time tested. He had a reverence for
the great men of the past—Louis Pasteur
was his patron saint.
Dr. Long was a great reader, not only
of scientific writings, but also of philosophy and literature, especially French
which he read in the original. This gave
him not only a great fund of knowledge
but an insight into the interpretation of
knowledge which gave a character and an
authority to his public utterances and a
charm to his private conversation. When
Dr. Long entered a room his presence
created an atmosphere more eloquent than
A skillful physician and surgeon, a man
of the highest ethical standards and one
who lived his convictions, an inspiring
teacher, an efficient administrator, a learned councilor, an active partisan for the
solidarity and elevation of his profession,
a loyal friend, a man who with modesty
and humility built for himself a high
place in the medical world, Dr. Long's
chair may be occupied—but his place will
not be filled.
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