MONTGOMERY — This year the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame inducted 12 new members into the Class of 2018, six of which are currently or were previous members of the Medical Association. We are very proud of our physicians, and we would like to extend our best wishes to these medical pioneers for their amazing contributions to the field of medicine in Alabama. The Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame was founded in 1997 with the purpose of recognizing those persons, living or deceased, who have made outstanding contributions to, or rendered exemplary service for health care in the State of Alabama.
Gerhard A. W. Boehm, M.D., FACS
Dr. Gerhard Boehm’s distinguished career spans more than 47 years as a general surgeon, including the performance of more than 7,000 breast surgeries primarily for cancer patients. His practice continues today. Through his vision and selflessness, he was instrumental in the development of a multidisciplinary Tumor Conference at Mobile Infirmary to advance cancer collaboration and treatment options. His work and leadership led to Mobile Infirmary’s achieving accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. In addition to his private practice, Dr. Boehm served as an adjunct professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama School of Medicine. Active in many professional areas, he served as president of the Alabama Medical Alumni Association, and in 2017 he received its Distinguished Alumnus Award. Dr. Boehm also served as Alabama chapter president of the American College of Surgeons.
Boyde J. “Jerry” Harrison, M.D.
Dr. Jerry Harrison is a family physician from Haleyville, Ala., having served the community for more than 35 years. He received his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Continuing his interest in biochemical research, he has participated in more than 120 clinical research trials, including opioid dependence research. In 2008, Dr. Harrison helped develop a board-sponsored and approved prescribing course, which he has presented to more than 7,000 Alabama prescribers. The course was awarded the Administrators in Medicine National Award for Excellence in 2015. He has served as the president and chairman of three statewide medical associations: the Alabama Medical Directors Association, the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. He has also served as chairman of the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners. Dr. Harrison was the recipient of the Garber Galbraith Medical Political Award from the UAB Medical School Alumni Association. He is a private pilot, a talented musician, and a tireless advocate for rural physicians in Alabama.
William Lawrence Hawley, M.D.*
A native of Belle Ellen, Ala., Dr. Hawley grew up in Bessemer. He excelled as a student at the University of Alabama and graduated from Harvard Medical School. After Pearl Harbor he joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps and served in both the European and Pacific theaters, working in epidemiology and environmental medicine. For his service, Dr. Hawley was awarded the Order of the British Empire for meritorious military service by King George VI. Dr. Hawley was a kind, caring physician who was a pioneer in the clinical use of radioisotopes. He was the first to use radioisotopes for cancer treatment in Birmingham, Alabama. He established an isotope lab at the Birmingham Veterans Hospital and worked with skilled physicians providing radioisotope therapy to patients with breast cancer, ovarian cancer and thyroid disease. Dr. Hawley influenced and guided many young men and women and was widely known as a role model for fellow physicians.
Martin Lester, M.D.
Dr. F. Martin Lester is a pioneer in cardiovascular care and beloved by thousands of patients. Still practicing medicine full time, it is estimated that Dr. Lester has read more than 250,000 EKGs and seen almost 200,000 patients, many of which are fourth and even fifth generation. Considered Mobile’s “Dean of Internal Medicine” he became founder and clinical director of the Operation Bounce Back cardiac rehabilitation program, the first in Alabama and now one of the top 10 programs in the U.S. Dr. Lester advanced medical care while retaining the Hippocratic values and principles of his calling. An Auburn graduate, he studied at the Medical College of Alabama and completed his training under the tutelage of Dr. Tinsley Harrison. An avid sportsman, Dr. Lester is a member of the Auburn Football Letterman’s Club and one of the trustees that established Mobile Little League Football. He has served as team doctor for the Senior Bowl and the Alabama-Mississippi All Star Game.
Richard O. Russell Jr., M.D.*
For more than 55 years on local, state and national levels, Dr. Richard Russell was considered a preeminent leader in the field of cardiology. He received rigorous academic training at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine, then pursued post-doctoral training at Harvard University and the Medical College of Alabama. After service as an Army Captain, he returned in 1962 to the Medical College of Alabama (now UAB). Over the next 55 years he worked as UAB Professor of Medicine and as a physician at Cardiovascular Associates of North Alabama. At UAB Dr. Russell directed the first Myocardial Infarction Research Unit and co-authored the first comprehensive textbook on coronary artery disease. Dr. Russell was a nationally recognized leader of the Alabama and American Colleges of Cardiology. His other great legacy was with the Boy Scouts of America where he received the awards of Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope and was a Distinguished Eagle Scout.
William R. Willard, M.D.*
Born in Seattle, Wash., Dr. William Willard received his medical degree from Yale University in 1934. Dr. Willard built a distinguished record of service as founding dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Ky., where he established the first department of Behavioral Sciences and Community Medicine. In 1966, Dr. Willard chaired the American Medical Association’s committee on family practice. Their “Willard Report” is credited with recommending and establishing Family Medicine as the 20th medical specialty in the United States. In 1972, University of Alabama President David Mathews coaxed Dr. Willard out of his Kentucky retirement to move to Tuscaloosa and develop the University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences. Today’s family medicine in Alabama is largely a product of the school Dr. Willard founded. One in eight family physicians in Alabama has trained at the Family Medicine residency program at CCHS. The program has provided more than 360 family practice physicians to the state with 50 percent remaining in Alabama.