To live as a witness is to share faith in ways that go beyond any written word, and by all accounts that was exactly what Dr. L. Howard Nabors did.
“Many of us here have a story to tell about Howard,” said Dr. Bill Davis, chairman of the Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital Foundation, as Vicky Call, treasurer of Clingman Medical Board, presented a check for $5,000 to the Foundation Scholarship Program in memory of Nabors, who died Nov. 21.
Each of those stories touched the heart of the listener, but it was Nabors’ patients who were touched the most profoundly.
“I remember going over the night of the viewing in Statesville, I met up with a friend coming in and he was talking about how he wouldn’t be there if it hadn’t been for Howard,” said Davis when speaking to the Nabors family.
Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital CEO Paul Hammes knew exactly of whom Davis was speaking.
“One of our long-standing trustees is David Cline,” said Hammes, who completed the details of Davis’ story. “One thing I learned early on when I came here in 2013 is how much Howard meant to his patients, starting with David.
“David had some sort of condition that was basically creating a significant disability for him. Increasingly he had less and less mobility. It got to the point where he was really having a hard time getting around at all,” said Hammes, explaining Cline had worked with specialists as well as his primary care physician to no avail.
A previous CEO connected Cline to Nabors.
“Always [Nabors’] answer was, “send the patient over right away,’” said Hammes of whenever Nabors was asked to see someone.
“He was seen by Howard and in no time at all he figured out what was wrong with him,” said Hammes, who relished in the regular reminder of the impact Nabors still has on the community through his work.
“He intervened on David and he is a very vibrant individual to this day and he always thanks Howard for what he did for him. He always reminds me how important [Nabors] is to our community and to our medical center.”
“Former hospital CEO Steve Pennington said, ‘When we have a patient who has issues that cannot be resolved, we give them to Howard and he always finds a cure,’” said Davis.
“I’ve heard that so many times that I really, really believe that is a true statement in every way because he never would let anything alone until he could get the right outcome,” said Davis. “He never gave up on a patient.”
That included those patients who were homebound.
“If a patient could not visit the clinic, he would call upon them at home,” said Davis. “If the patient did not have money, he gave him money. On many occasions, he carried food to them. He was a man of few words, but his actions spoke louder than any words that could be said.”
“Feed those who are hungry, clothe those who are naked and visit those who are in prison,” said Hammes from the Bible. “I think many of the patients that Howard went to see at home probably felt imprisoned, were starving for love and attention and needed care.”
That was exactly what Nabors did acting according to his faith.
“I think that’s what anybody would hope to do,” said Hammes, “to serve in the deepest, most meaningful possible way to reach out and be the hands and feet of our Lord to others in a caring fashion. Howard certainly was a strong believer in his own faith and lived that faith most importantly.”
That faith nearly led him to leave Davidson College, according to Dr. Jim Harrell Sr. in his memoirs about Elkin and its people, which is available at the foundation office.
“He said in his first class of the Bible study, the professor came in, showed the Bible, and went over to the window and threw it out,” said Harrell in Chapter 47. He called his mother and she told him to stay in the course, keep careful notes and see what you learn. He ended up enjoying the class.”
Whatever he may have learned from a class he initially found so offensive, Nabors learned to persevere.
“Before Howard came, we were told by a former physician that there were not enough patients in the service area to support the clinic. Because of Howard Nabors, Clingman Medical Center is alive and well,” said Davis, who added about 40 patients were served at the clinic daily.
Nabors also served the future of the Clingman community by caring for their future medical needs as well.
“He played a founding role in the establishment of the Clingman Medical Center Scholarship program that gives $15,000 each year to students desiring to become doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals,” said Davis, who thought it appropriate that the center continue Nabors’ legacy by giving to the Foundation Scholarship Fund.
“This gift from Clingman Medical Center in memory of Lawrence Howard Nabors, MD will help Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital Foundation establish a scholarship program that will encourage men and women to become healthcare professionals and come back to Elkin to live and work,” said Davis.
“That is just another reason why he will continue to be an inspiration to all of us for many many years to come,” said Hammes.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.