Biographical Sketch of Dr. Ralph Percy Cummings
November 18, 1882 – October 14, 1945
Doctor Ralph Percy Cummings was born November 18, 1882 in Georgetown, Demerara County, British Guiana, South America (now known as Guyana). He immigrated to Boston in 1907. He then made his way to Nashville, TN where he attended Meharry College, graduating in 1914. After five years of practice in Savannah, TN, he moved to Conway, Arkansas (Faulkner County) in 1919 where he established a medical practice among the African American community.
Dr. Cummings and Grace Washington were married on June 10, 1925. To this union were born three sons, Ralph Cummings Jr., Robert W. and R. Winslow. Dr. Cummings marital status in the 1930 census was widowed. On August 31, 1939 Dr. Cummings and Sabron Lee Perry were married in Faulkner County.
Dr. Cummings took an active interest in the African American organizations in Conway with a particular interest in improving kids’ education. He was held in high respect by a large number of white citizens and members of his own race. Dr. Cummings name is not found in the American Medical Directories of 1916, 1918 and 1921, possibly because at that time black doctors were not allowed in the AMA but had their own association, The Arkansas Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association, Inc. (AMDPA). The AMDPA was founded in 1893 by a group of African-American medical professionals.
With over 25 years of medical practice in Conway, Dr. Cummings died October 14, 1945. His obituary quoted a close friend as saying, “A host of doctors, churchmen, and civic leaders generally will join me in lamenting the unfortunate death of Dr. Cummings. He was of nature’s noblemen, a very useful citizen, and popular with all classes. His passing creates an aching void which will be difficult to fill.”1
Dr. Cummings lies buried in Robinson Cemetery, Conway, AR.
1 Arkansas State Press, October 19, 1945, p.5
Biographical sketch and photo generously furnished by Philip Cummings, Dr. Cummings’ grandson