Friday, September 17, 2010

Wonder: Live to be a healthy 112

I believe it may be unusual to be out lived by your pediatrician, but in the case of pediatrician Dr. Leila Denmark, well there are probably many instances in which she's beaten the odds and done it. Dr. Denmark was our family pediatrician for decades and multiple generations. When I was an infant patient of hers, she was close to the age that most people would be considering their retirement. She gave me my college physical exam and continued working another twenty-eight years. Retirement for Dr. Denmark? She did eventually retire from practicing pediatric medicine when she was 103, in the year 2001. February 1 of this year (2010), Dr. Denmark turned 112. I'm copying what Wikipedia has to say about our beloved Dr. Denmark.

Leila Alice Denmark, M.D. (née Daughtry; born February 1, 1898) is, at 112 years, 228 days, an American pediatrician who became the oldest practicing pediatrician in the world, retiring at the age of 103 in May 2001.[1] She is one of very few supercentenarians known for reasons other than for longevity. She is currently one of the 15 oldest living people.


Born in Portal, Georgia, Denmark was the third of 12 children born to Elerbee and Alice Cornelia Hendricks Daughtry. She is the only one still living. She attended Tift College in Forsyth, Georgia, where she trained to be a teacher, but decided to attend medical school when her fiancé, John E. Denmark, was posted to Java, Indonesia, by the United States Department of State and no wives were allowed. She was the only woman in the 1928 graduating class of the Medical College of Georgia, and married soon after graduation. Denmark is credited as co-developer of the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine in the 1920s and 1930s.
Following graduation, she accepted a residency at
Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and moved to the Morningside Heights neighborhood with her husband. Denmark was the first physician on staff at Henrietta Eggleston Hospital, a pediatric hospital on the Emory University campus, when it opened. In private practice, she saw patients in a clinic at her home and devoted a substantial amount of her professional time to charity. She never refused a referral from the public health department. On March 9, 2000, the Georgia General Assembly honored her in a resolution.
Denmark outlined her views on child-rearing in her book Every Child Should Have A Chance, published in 1971. She was among the first doctors to object to
cigarette smoking around children, and drug use in pregnant women. She believes that drinking cow's milk Uiis harmful, and that children (and adults) should eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juices, and drink only water. On her 100th birthday in 1998, she refused cake due to the fact that there was too much sugar in it. On her 103rd birthday she refused birthday cake, telling the restaurant's server she had not had any food with sugar in it (other than natural sugar like fruit) in 70 years.
She wrote a second book, published in 2002, with Madia Bowman titled Dr. Denmark Said It!: Advice for Mothers from America's Most Experienced Pediatrician (Paperback).
Denmark lived in
Alpharetta, Georgia until age 106, when she moved to Athens, Georgia to live with her daughter Mary Hutcherson. On February 1, 2008, Denmark celebrated her 110th birthday, attaining supercentenarian status. On February 1, 2010, Denmark attained the age of 112. According to her daughter, Mary Hutcherson, Denmark's health had deteriorated severely in Autumn 2008, but her condition has since improved. [3]
If you google "Dr. Leila Denmark", many other articles come up. In one such article she mentions her long and happy marriage to Mr. Denmark in regards to which she says: I listened carefully to what he had to say, then did as I pleased. Mr. Denmark listened carefully to what I had to say, than did as he pleased. :o)
Part of her personal philosophy:
Anything on earth you want to do is play. Anything on earth you have to do is work...I never worked a day in my life.--Dr. Leila Denmark

Above: Dr. Denmark in 1936


  1. Hi Toni,

    What an amazing woman!

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  2. I remember going to her when I was a kid. How amazing she is. I am so happy to see your blog. LOVE IT.

  3. just speechless,
    what an amazing woman and doctor...
    Greetings to 114th birthday from Austria, Europe!
    From a Colleague,

  4. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
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