Medical pioneer dies at 87 -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Medical pioneer dies at 87

December 8, 2004

Albany-- A pioneering black Doctor in South Georgia, Dr. Jacob Shirley, Jr. died Wednesday morning at age 87.

Dr. Shirley led the way during the civil rights era for black doctors in Albany as the first black Physician on the staff at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, elected by fellow Doctors in 1965.

Shirley practiced medicine around Southwest Georgia for nearly 50 years, until his death today.

Dr. Carl Gordon said, "He made a lasting impression upon me, and he made a lasting impression upon the hearts and families of those that he served."

Shirley was instrumental in the careers of many black doctors, like Gordon. "It was a great boost, toward building the morale of African Americans, and certainly building the morale of African American medical students."

Dr. Shirley was a inspiration to young blacks in Albany, like Thomas Chatmon. "As he encountered the obstacles of racism and discrimination, he simply addressed those definitively and positively. And therefore again set a positive example and led by example."

Dr. Shirley was Albany State's Clinic Doctor for more than 30 years, and worked in the Medical Examiners office for decades. A trailblazer in both the medical and civil rights history of South Georgia, Dr. Shirley's wife says he never quit practicing medicine. He was scheduled to see a patient today.

Dr. Shirley came from a medical family. His father practiced medicine in Dawson for more than 60 years. Funeral plans have not been finalized.

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