A retired pediatrician who cared for generations in Hall County is now only the fourth person to receive an award recognizing local physicians for their service to the medical profession as well as outstanding dedication, selflessness, generosity, philanthropy and service to the community.
Dr. William T. “Buddy” Langston was surprised with the Samuel O. Poole Award during The Medical Center Foundation’s donor recognition event honoring members of The James H. Downey Society last night. The Downey Society – a group of physicians who not only improve the health of the community by providing expert care, but also by giving of their time and financial resources – created and presented the award in 2001 to honor Dr. Sam Poole, a forefather of modern health care in Hall County. The award is not given on a set schedule, but rather only when Downey Society members feel there is a recipient who exemplifies the standard for the award.
“As someone who cares deeply about leaving the community better than he found it, there is no more fitting recipient of this special award than Dr. Langston,” says Jim Moore, chairman of The Medical Center Foundation. “The mark he has made on our community is embodied by those generations of children he cared for– especially from families who weren’t able to pay – who are now adults in our community. His generous spirit lives on through them, as well as through the outstanding physician leadership and volunteer service he still provides to this day.”
Dr. Langston grew up in Austell and started working in healthcare in the early 1950’s. When he was 16 years old, he went to Grady Hospital, told them he was studying medicine and they gave him a job sewing up patients. No one ever asked his age or what type of medicine he was studying. Dr. Langston received his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia after only three years. He went on to receive his medical degree from Medical College of Georgia and move to Atlanta, where he met his beloved wife of 55 years, Evie.
After being drafted to serve in the Korean War, Dr. Langston was assigned to the Public Health Service and found his calling to care for children. He served stateside, interned in pediatrics at two Atlanta hospitals and then moved to Gainesville in January 1966 to become just the thirty-sixth physician in the community.
Dr. Langston first practiced with Dr. Harvey Newman, then merged practices with Drs. Larry Morris and Ben Gilbert to form Northeast Georgia Pediatrics in 1976. Dr. Everett Roseberry joined them in 1978 and the group worked together for the next two decades.
“When we interviewed Buddy’s contemporaries as part of the award process, we learned his practice was the first north of Atlanta to accept Medicaid, the first to open a satellite office and the first to implement an electronic medical records system,” says Nancy Colston, president and chief development officer of The Medical Center Foundation. “We were told he was a visionary during the evolving healthcare landscape of the early 1990’s, and he always made decisions while keeping quality of care first.”
That vision continued through 1994, as one of the driving physician forces which led to the founding of The Longstreet Clinic – now one of the largest physician practices in the state. He continued to practice pediatrics with TLC until his retirement in 2002.
Dr. Langston served as chief of staff at Northeast Georgia Medical Center; on numerous committees and the boards of Medical Association of Georgia and Georgia Accord of Pediatricians; and as longtime chairman of the Lakeview Academy board. He currently serves on the boards of The Medical Center Foundation and Elachee Nature Center, supports Challenged Child & Friends, volunteers at Gateway Domestic Violence Center and works with The Medical Association of Georgia Foundation on the “Think About It” campaign’s “Project DAN.”
Dr. Langston taught Sunday School at First Methodist Church of Gainesville, where he and Evie quietly dedicated a garden to the memory of their late son, Lewis. The couple have two other children – Tom Langston, who practices pediatric emergency medicine in Austin, Texas; and Frances Lucas, a homemaker and volunteer here in Gainesville – and three grandchildren.
Learn more about the Samuel O. Poole Award, The James H. Downey Society and how you can support The Medical Center Foundation at www.TheMedicalCenterFoundation.org, or call 770-219-8099 for more information.