Edith Whitfield honored

Published 6:52 am Friday, August 15, 2008

Edith Whitfield, one of the first known members of the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital’s Auxiliary, was honored for her service to the hospital at the auxiliary’s August meeting on Thursday.

“I don’t know if I was one of the founding members,” Whitfield said, “but I was with them for about 20 years. Mrs. Sparks, the wife of Dr. Sparks, was in it before I was. One day, she came up to me and said, ‘Here, you need this pin,’ and it was a 15-year pin! Then, when this hospital switched over to United Blood Services — we’re not using Red Cross blood any more — we started counting (auxiliary service) from then. I started with the Gray Ladies (an earlier name for the Auxiliary) in 1973.”

Whitfield, 93, and her husband, the late Dr. Fred Whitfield, moved to Demopolis in 1946.

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“When he got out of the university, he practiced in Louisiana for a while,” she said, “until the army got him (during World War II). They told him that either apply for a commission in the army or they were going to induct him as a private in the rear ranks. So, he applied then, and went in as a captain in the medical corps.”

Whitfield has seen the name of the hospital’s volunteers go from Gray Ladies to Pink Ladies to Auxiliary, and has seen the group grow and thrive in her service to the hospital.

“Way back, it seemed like we just ran errands in the hospital,” she said. “That was the extent of it. And then, it got to be more. One of the main things that I was connected with at the beginning was the blood drive. We had Red Cross blood drives long before we had United Blood Services. I was the chair for that for years and years — I don’t really know how many years. I think the last time I recruited for the Red Cross, we had 276 pints. At that time, Red Cross didn’t set up at a half-dozen other places across town, like United Blood Services does now, which cuts down on our take overall.

“That was one of my main connections with the Gray Ladies, to be chairman of the blood drive. Then, when we got United Blood Services, I was chairman of the blood drive several times.”

Whitfield remains active with the Auxiliary, working Tuesday mornings in the operating room’s waiting room.

“We keep up with the families who come in who have patients in surgery,” she said. “Then, when they are sent from surgery into recovery, they let us know, and then, we let those families know. Or, when the doctors want to talk with the families, we take them into a waiting room, were the doctors talk with them and tell them how the patient did.”

For more than 35 years, Edith Whitfield has given her time and talents to Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, earning recognition for her service to the community.