February 1

Leila Denmark

February 1, 1898 - Bulloch County, Augusta, Atlanta

She lived by two rules: love what you do and eat right. It clearly worked for Leila Denmark. At the age of 103, she was the oldest practicing pediatrician in the country when she retired in 2001.

Born in Bulloch County in 1898, Denmark made a bold choice for a woman at that time – to become a doctor. She went to the Medical College of Georgia and then interned in the segregated black wards at Grady Hospital. Later, she became the first intern at Egleston Hospital for Children in Atlanta.

Setting up a clinic in her home after her daughter was born, Denmark practiced for 70 years, rarely charging a patient more than $10. Her research in the 1930s on whooping cough led to the pertussis vaccine that is still in use today. In 1971, Denmark wrote the book Every Child Should Have a Chance, arguing against working mothers who put their children in daycare.

This distinguished doctor whose life spanned three centuries was born February 1, 1898, Today in Georgia History.