The “Dr. Granville Jasper Floyd M. D.” biography that follows was written by Richard R. Floyd, the first born son of Dr. Floyd. His two younger brothers helped by reminiscing about a childhood with their father. The story portrays the life of a remarkable man who met every criteria of being a Country Doctor, yet in a modern age.
He served the people of Murfreesboro, Arkansas in Pike County for nearly “Twenty years with Commitment, Compassion toward Humanity, and—- lived a Life of Integrity”. •* He spanned what is known as the old-country-doctor-era with the fast advances made in medical science, combining the two successfully.
Dr. Floyd served in the U. S. Navy through WWII and the Korean conflict. He and his wife had three sons who now also contribute to society, one, following his father as a medical doctor in Murfreesboro.
Dr. Floyd’s leadership helped build a hospital in his town, yet even then, he continued to make house calls when patients needed home care. He was President of the Howard-Pike Medical Association, and was chosen as one of the Personalities of the South in 1969 for outstanding community service. His death at the early age of 50 cut short the time he could have given to his medical practice of devoted care.
As you read this interesting, entertaining and telling biography you will learn more of Dr. Floyd’s U. S. Navy Service, how he became known by the name of Dick, the joys of often entertaining family life, interesting medical cases he tended, his constant service to his patients in uncertain weather and on uncertain roads and finally, the humble, meaningful legacy he left for others to follow.
Read it with pleasure and pride
* From “Criteria for Induction into Hall of Honor, Arkansas Country Doctor Museum”
Research Volunteer, Arkansas Country Doctor Museum
DR. GRANVILLE JASPER FLOYD JR.
Granville Jasper Floyd Jr. was born November 12, 1920 in Nashville, Arkansas. He was the first-born child of Granville (1891-1960) and Edna Story Floyd (1902-1973). Granville Sr.’s grandfather, Jasper (1824-1900), brought this branch of the Floyd family to Arkansas in 1854, and settled in Muddy Fork Township, Pike County. Jasper was a farmer, and was active in local civic issues. He was a Confederate veteran. Floyds of the area are often asked if they are related to Pretty Boy Floyd, the infamous depression era outlaw from Oklahoma. Genealogical records indicate that Jasper was the older brother of Redding who was the 1st great-grandfather of Charles Pretty Boy Floyd. So, yes, the Floyds of Muddy Fork are indeed related, but all have certainly managed to rise above that thorny branch of the family tree.
Granville Jr. attended elementary school in Highland, Pike County. During that time his family lived on a farm they called the Potter Place raising livestock and maintaining a peach orchard. By the time his family moved to Nashville, Arkansas in the early 1930’s Granville Jr. had a sister and a baby brother. Granville Sr. worked for his father’s hardware store in Nashville and owned rent houses in town.
EDUCATION AND MILITARY SERVICE
Granville Jr. graduated from Nashville High School in 1938 and began working full time in a pharmacy downtown where he had worked part-time during his school years. His plans were to attend college and become a pharmacist. He delayed college and enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1940, and after basic training he attended Hospital Corp School in San Diego, California. He specialized in general duties in Hospital Corps, including clinical laboratory and medical administration work. He was sent to the Naval Operating Base in Argentia, Newfoundland in 1943, and in 1945 was Chief Pharmacist Mate on the maiden voyage of the hospital ship U.S.S. Repose. The Repose spent four months in the Asia-Pacific Theater including Shanghi, China, It should be mentioned that Granville Jr. was more familiarly known as Dick to friends, family and his Navy buddies. When he was born his mother wanted him named Granville Junior, but his father was against the idea, and pushed to name him Richard. Edna was persistent and won the argument, but Granville Sr. started a subtle and not so subtle campaign to attach the moniker “Dick”, a common nickname for Richard, to his son’s identity. The name stuck and later even Edna relinquished her preferred name for the nickname. After military service, Dick Floyd returned to Arkansas in 1946 begin his college education. He attended Little Rock Junior College and Hendrix College, and then enrolled in medical school at The University of Arkansas School of Medicine, graduating in 1952. Following graduation, he returned to the U.S. Navy for a two year tour of duty. He was stationed first at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, California and then sent to Hunter’s Point Naval Base near San Francisco. In early 1953 he was aboard ship making port in Japan and South Korea. His enlistment expired in November 1954, but he remained in the Navy reserve for another five years.
In 1942 Granville Dick Floyd Jr. married Dortha(Dottie) Mildred Rhodes(1924-2010) of Nashville. She was the daughter of Uther and Nolus Young Rhodes. The house that Granville spent his high school years in and the house that Dottie grew up in were on the same unpaved street, but they actually met first by exchanging glances as she passed the pharmacy each day after school, and later by more formal introduction facilitated by Dick’s sister Dorace who was a classmate of Dottie’s. Theirs was a war-time marriage and Dick had to report back to duty. Dottie was separated from him for long periods of time, but was able to join him living on or near base. She returned to Arkansas from Brooklyn, New York when he was sent to Newfoundland.
When Dr. Floyd started his practice in Murfreesboro in 1954, he and Dottie had two sons, Richard and Michael. In 1955 a third son, Mark, was born. Mark is now Dr. Mark Floyd who has a Family Practice clinic in Murfreesboro. Dr. Floyd often told people who asked why he chose Murfreesboro rather than accepting an offer to join a clinic in San Francisco. He said that he decided that he wanted his sons to grow up in the country and to be near their extended families.
As luck would have it, there was an opening for a doctor very near where he and Dottie grew up. Dr. Melvin Dewey Duncan (1898-1953) had been a well-loved and respected physician in Murfreesboro. His practice was open at the time to a new physician willing to take it on. Murfreesboro had a population (in 1950) of 1,012 and was somewhat well known for the diamond mine tourist area nearby. Pike County had, in 1950, a population of 9,000. There was civic energy in Murfreesboro, and the county in general, partly due to the return of veterans who were eager to see their towns grow and prosper. There was in 1954 discussion of building a hospital to be located in Murfreesboro, an idea that Dr. Floyd helped formalize, and other ambitious plans for growth including ways to attract industries to augment the already growing tourist business. Murfreesboro is a town on the square with a courthouse, aligned to the cardinal directions, in the center. One corner of the street around the square is rounded by highway 27. West on 27 takes one to Nashville and in the direction of Hope, 1-30 and Texarkana. East on highway 27 from Murfreesboro goes splits at the edge of town with 27 passing through Kirby and Glenwood then linking with the highway to Hot Springs. The other fork, highway 19 goes to Delight, home of Glen Campbell, and puts one in the direction of Arkadelphia, 1-30 and Little Rock. Pike County has a mix of paved two lane roads, improved gravel roads, and timber access roads (TARS). The TARS are either passable, barely passable, or don’t even try it. Most of the towns in the county are linked now by paved roads. In 1954 a few towns, like Nathan, Tokio, Sweethome and others were on gravel roads.
Dr. Floyd came to Murfreesboro to occupy Dr. Duncan’s office, which was full of vintage and also modern medical equipment such an x-ray machine (there was also a fluoroscope that displayed real-time moving x-ray images of an object. Dr. Floyd briefly demonstrated its use to his sons, but did not use it in his practice). So, with a little redoing he was ready to start seeing patients. The office (or Dr. Floyd’s office as it was called) was located on the south side of People’s Pharmacy which had a soda fountain, and the other doctor in town, Hiram Ward, occupied an office on the north side. The office was the core of his practice, having regular hours, but he was also a doctor on wheels which he felt was a necessity for a practice that spanned the whole county. He was on call to patients outside his office hours, and made house calls to all parts of the county at all hours. He did not limit his calls to those who “could pay” nor did he consider a person’s race to be a factor in the quality of care and attention he gave to each patient. His office waiting room and treatment rooms, as well as his home visits, were unsegregated. Pike County did get a hospital in 1958, which provided an emergency room, a surgical suite and delivery room, and thirty-two beds. The hospital made life a little easier for the doctors of the town, becoming very central to their practices, but Dr. Floyd continued to see patients who were too far away and unable to get to the hospital in a timely way. When he started work in Pike County, many of his patients were former miners who had spent long hours exposed to dust and toxins as they worked, unprotected, in the cinnabar (mercury ore) mines during the boom from about 1930 to about 1945. Their illnesses were usually lung related, and caused horrible suffering. Dr. Floyd would often take one of his sons with him on a call. When they were young, it was a chance for some father and son time and it was also a chance for them to see some of what their father did. One son recalls vividly a house call to an ex miner in Daisy, a small town on the northern area of Lake Greeson. The sight and sounds of the dying man’s labored breathing made a lasting impression on his young mind. When the boys were older, they were sometimes along on calls to be of assistance if a muddy road posed a problem.
Making house calls in Pike County often meant a drive one way of at least 15 miles and if the call was in the Amity area one way was more than 30 miles. Dr. Floyd stopped regularly at Sportman’s Headquarters, otherwise known as “the curve” because it was at the north side of town bend of highway 27, and at Olvey Johnson’s Texaco station. They were places where he could not only get a cup of coffee or fill up his car, but also catch up on local news and events. There were times they served as places where either Frank Bray at the curve or Olvey would commandeer heavy transportation for the doctor needing to make a call in a snow or rain storm, or to somewhere generally not suited for a sedan. On a number of occasions the vehicle procured for the service was a log truck. It was always interesting news in town when doc had ride in a log truck or some other ungainly but capable vehicle to make a call. He later bought a Jeep, but did not get to use it much because his sons often had it out on their own adventures. Mother Nature and bad roads were not the only hazards Dr. Floyd had to contend with. There were a few times the county police department had to provide escort or transportation for the doctor to a call with potential danger. One instance was a call to see an elderly woman in a remote area north of Langley. The family of which this great-grandmother was the matriarch was in hostile conflict with another family nearby. The county sheriff felt it prudent to provide his protection during the doctor’s visit. Another police situation arose when a call was made to a house near Amity that was reached by passing through an area where marijuana farming was under investigation and a potentially dangerous place for a nice car to be in the middle of the night.
Dr. Floyd continued making house calls throughout his years of practice. The demands on his time and vehicle, however, were lessened when the hospital was opened 1958. The hospital’s emergency room, medical technology services, labor and minor surgery suites and 32 beds for long-term patient care was a tremendous boon to the health services of the area. Dr. Floyd made regular hospital rounds seven
days a week, delivered babies and took care of emergencies in the new facility. In sum, however, Dr. Floyd’s routines did not change. His sons recall interruptions numerous times when the family had gone to the Howard Drive-In Theater. Mom and dad sat in the car, and the boys went outside to the seating under the concession stand canopy. Occasionally the dreaded sight of the theater’s manager, Mr. Calahan, would draw a collective “oh no” from the boys as he walked toward the doctor’s car. Very often the news was that there was an emergency at the hospital, and depending on the situation, the family either had to pack up and head back to Murfreesboro, or mom would join the boys outside and wait for the doctor to go and return. Being on call and catching a nap when possible had comical results at times. Dr. Floyd told Vance Evans, owner of People’s Pharmacy, that he had once come awake from a nap in the recliner of his den with one sock on, and did not remember if he had come in from a call or was getting ready to go on one.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Dr. Floyd had a love for his profession that went beyond the day-to-day routine of the job, and that he had respect and compassion for each of his patients. In the county there are still men named Richard, Michael or Mark, men who were delivered by Dr. Floyd. To honor the doctor, the parents chose the name of one of his sons for their son. There are even a few Granvilles in the county. A woman in her seventies who lives in Hot Springs tells of the night her first born came into the world at Pike County Memorial Hospital. She was a teenager, frightened and uncomfortable, but her physician, Dr. Floyd, was sitting on the bed next to hers calmingly reading to her from Classic Comics as they waited for labor to begin. Her memory is of a person who had given her caring encouragement for nine months and helped prepare her for her new life.
Dr. Floyd, like many of the men and women who returned to their homes after World War II or Korea, came back to a nation profoundly changed, where there was a feeling that anything was possible. Such inspirations led to a desire to be pro-active citizens of their communities. Dr. Floyd gave of himself as much as possible, to both community and professional service. He served as president of the Howard-Pike Medical Society, was on staff of both the Howard County Memorial Hospital and the Pike County Memorial Hospital. He was vice-president of the Murfreesboro Nursing Home, served on the board of Pike County Bank, and was chosen as one the Personalities of the South in 1969 for outstanding community service. He was elected, just prior to his death, to active membership in the American Academy of General Practice, a national association of family doctors. He was a member of the United Methodist Church.
DEATH AND LEGACY
Dr. Floyd died of heart failure on April 23, 1971. News of his death seemed to ripple across the region, and his community went into a kind of shock. The day of his funeral, Murfreesboro honored their fallen doctor by closing down. Businesses and government offices closed. The school allowed high school students to leave campus in staggered numbers to pay their respects. Later, student athletes organized a drive to raise money for the Heart Fund in Dr. Floyd’s honor. They raised more than $600.00 dollars. The doctor was further honored by the school by the creation of the “Dr. G. J. Floyd Jr. award” given each year to the most outstanding athlete. Dr. Floyd had devoted many hours during his years in Murfreesboro providing medical assistance to the athletes of Murfreesboro High School. There were many times on the football field or basketball court that the stands went silent waiting for doc, in his dark suit and tie, to attend to an injured player. Injured players from both sides got the same care.
The Pike County Courier ran an article in June 1971, two months after Dr. Floyd’s death, attempting to sum up the feelings of a still grieving community. Titled A Time to Remember, it read in part, ……he was care and concern, kindness and courtesy armed with knowledge fitted with skilled hand. He was action speaking louder than words. To the sick, a sunny smile of hope on a dark and rainy day. To the aged, a gallant young knight who rode across the wide drawbridge of too many years to bring relief from ache and pain. To the uncountable friends of all ages who came his way, he was encouragement and inspiration. In the needs of others he found a cause for zealous motivation. Yet he sought no power except to heal and inspire, and to this cause he lent his life to its early end. Yes community and friends, the loss is great, but today is a time to remember …. count our blessings. How many humble and contrite places such as ours have been privileged to have had in its time a person like Dr. Granville J. Floyd, Jr.?”
Richard R. Floyd
November 12, 2019