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2 great lives, 2 great legacies
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It is hard to be sad when we lose folks who have lived a long and productive life. Last week, we lost two.

One was Dr. Leila Denmark, who lived 114 years. She practiced medicine until she was 103 and lived by herself until she was 106.

There are all sorts of amazing things about her life. When she was born in 1898, the average life expectancy for a woman was 49. For a man it was 47.

I met Dr. Denmark in Forsyth County in 1998, when she turned 100. She was a no-nonsense woman who had an incredible grasp on what was best for children.

Madia Bowman, the mother of 11, spent eight years writing down all she could and the result was a book called "Dr. Denmark said it."

It is filled with many pearls of wisdom.

"If mothers would just use their brains and take responsibility, they would know what to do with their children," said Dr. Denmark in the book.

Leila Denmark became a physician when there were few women in the field. She was the only woman in the 1928 class of the Medical College of Georgia.

She was humble enough to think that her way of thinking was not perfect or exact, but she backed it up with 75 years of medical practice.

Phill Bettis, a good friend of mine in Forsyth County, told the Forsyth County News that his father built the little house that was Denmark’s medical office.

"She loved practicing in that little house," Bettis said. "I don’t know that she ever locked the doors and you were welcome to come see her ... she might have three or four generations of folks that would come to her sequentially. That’s remarkable in itself."

She had some strong beliefs about diet and medicine.

"She did not believe in milk products," Bettis said. "She didn’t believe in bubble gum medicine. It was a very austere look compared to how we think of medicine today. I think her mind-set in that was medicine shouldn’t be that attractive to us."

He also said that Denmark ate little meat, loved vegetables and thought good eating habits should be passed down from one generation to the next.

We also said goodbye to Gene Bobo, who was 94. In the business world, Bobo will be remembered for patenting the fiber that led to modern pantyhose.

But for a generation of men, now in their 60s or older, Bobo was their Scoutmaster. Along with the late James Mathis, he was the leader of Boy Scout Troop 26 of First Baptist Church.

His former Scouts still speak of both Bobo and Mathis with a measure of reverence and respect that is uncommon in today’s world.

When he moved away for a few years to Charlotte, he was involved with Scouting there. He continued his service to the Northeast Georgia Council until his death. It’s not often that someone devotes nearly three-quarters of a century to shaping the lives of young men.

He was sharp and quick-witted and continued to drive himself to an office in Norcross until just a couple of years ago.

Like many of the Greatest Generation, he perpetuated a love of country and community among his Scouts.

That is his greatest legacy.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.

 

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