News from the Tennessee Valley News

Ronnie Thomas

One of founders of Med-Surge Complex retiring

The man who teamed with other physicians 22 years ago to open the Med-Surg Complex on U.S. 31 walks into retirement Tuesday.

Dr. William Brown is retiring July 31.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Dr. William Brown is retiring July 31.
Dr. Willam A. Brown, 66, of Decatur figures it will be like any other day.

"I will see patients until the end of the day," he said. "I don't know why it's going to be any different."

Patients and those who work at the facility will notice the void Wednesday.

"He was not only a good husband for his late wife, but he's a good father and grandfather who has love for his family, a good Christian family," said Dr. Jagan Reddy, who came to the clinic in 1996. "He's also a good doctor to his patients, who was never upset with anyone."

Brown's departure caps almost four decades of service to the area, starting in 1969 at old Pineview Hospital in Hartselle.

"I was a family practitioner, actually general practitioner is what they called us then," he said. "You finished your internship and went into practice. There was no residency at the time."

Brown is a New Orleans native. He earned a pre-medical degree in 1962 at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and graduated from medical school at Louisiana State in 1966.

While doing his internship at Mobile General Hospital, now the University of South Alabama Medical Center, he joined the Alabama Army National Guard and served eight years during the Vietnam era. The link with the Guard led to his first job.

"I was in a unit at Ashland attached to a medical group in Talladega, the 109th Evacuation Hospital," Brown said. "My company commander, a radiologist in residence at UAB, did some moonlighting with the United Mine Workers. He told me about a UMW clinic in Jasper.

"I was broke," he said. "I could go to work for them and get a check, and wouldn't have to set up a practice."

He worked in Jasper two years before transferring to another UMW clinic in Bessemer, where he remained a year before moving to Hartselle.


In 1975, he moved his practice to Parkway Medical Center, where he stayed a decade before joining other doctors to establish Med-Surg.

"We had a full-time doctor with eight to 10 doctors in the building," he said. "We were a walk-in clinic from the first day."

Brown said the greatest change on the medical front since his arrival is the dwindling number of physicians.

"That's why this place has been so successful. People don't have a doctor and they come here," he said.

"The total number of doctors has increased in both Hartselle and Decatur, but the doctor-to-patient ratio has declined."

Thoughts centered on family as he reflected on his life. When his sister was at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in New Orleans, she introduced him to another student, Gayle, who would become his wife.

The couple raised three sons. Mike is a Birmingham lawyer, Steve is a drug rep living in Decatur and Chris is a Huntsville banker. Brown has eight grandchildren.

His wife, whom he called "a sweetie," died in November 2003.

Her parents, Frank and Dottie Timphony, who lived in Metairie, La., moved to Decatur when Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast in August 2005.

"He died here of prostate cancer and my mother-in-law, who is 85, is at Decatur Health and Rehab," Brown said.

He has no immediate plans except to hang out with his 9-year-old dog, Sugar, a Pomeranian and Pekingese mix.

"We go to see Dottie all the time," he said. "She loves Sugar, too, as much as Gayle did."

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Ronnie Thomas Ronnie Thomas
DAILY Staff Writer

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