City doctor was a pioneer

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 24, 2004

Staff Editorial

The long-time residents of Demopolis – those who belong to Dr. Reese Holifield’s generation – perhaps best understand exactly what his passing means to this city.

The long-time members of Alabama’s medical community perhaps best understand exactly what his passing means to that particular field of endeavor.

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Dr. Holifield was both a pioneer and a throwback, although those two terms may seem contradictory.

A pioneer in his willingness to embrace new medical procedures and treatments. In his prime, he was among the most gifted surgeons in the Southeast if not the nation.

A throwback in terms of his bedside manner. Dr. Holifield took the time to sit down and visit with his patients and make them feel they were more than just a part of his livelihood. He was known to spend enormous amounts of time and energy nursing patients back to health, sometimes after saving their lives.

In the professional sense, it is not an overstatement to say that Dr. Holifield could just about do it all. It was not uncommon for his name to be known in medical circles in such places as Atlanta and New York, although his heart always stayed with Demopolis and Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. For more than four decades, he was a fixture in the halls of BWWMH, often the person taking the lead to keep the medical staff on course and often serving as the bridge between hospital and community.

Regarding the man, his friends (many of whom were also patients) and his family will speak of his warmth, his generosity and his ability to enjoy life. He understood that his position in the community meant others would look to him for guidance, leadership and even inspiration. In all these he met the challenge.

Dr. Holifield’s determination to practice medicine until the very end speaks of his dedication to medicine and to the people he cared about the most.

Any man, upon his passing, would want said what is true of Reese Holifield: He left his mark on his community, his profession and his fellow man.

We join with the many others in our community to offer our condolences to Reese Holifield’s family.

Demopolis will be just a little dimmer without Dr. Holifield’s light of leadership, compassion and service.