Recognizing a life-long adherence to the Boy Scout Law, the Laurel District of the Old History Council presented Dr. Hal Stuart with an award Tuesday morning. He was the recipient of the Good Scout Award.
“I sat down at the table and saw this little brochure about Scouts, and I saw that they had described Hal,” said Dr. Skip Whitman, “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean — I can’t attest to that — and reverent. I mean shoot, that’s Hal.”
Speakers filled the morning with similar jokes amid sincere appreciation for the doctor who delivered more than 4,000 babies.
“That’s about the size of the population of Elkin,” said Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital CEO Paul Hammes, “in sheer numbers you could probably say Dr. Stewart is the good godfather of Elkin.”
As impressive as the numbers are, it has been the character of Stuart that has made the most impact.
“Number one, innate gratitude for the reason we exist; number two, an enthusiasm for what is possible; and number three, the perfect blend of poise, indifference and awe of the elegance,” said Hammes.
“Hal demonstrates such a quiet calm confidence that it truly inspires trust,” echoed Whitman.
“It inspires trust in the nursing staff, trust from his colleagues, and more importantly, it inspires the trust that you really strive to get as a physician caring for your patience. Nothing is more satisfying as a physician and realizing the person who’s there and your office is there because they trust you.”
It is such characteristics that are celebrated in the Dr. Hal Stuart Award given by the hospital.
“There’s only one award at Hugh Chatham named after a physician and that is it,” said Hammes. “It is presented to a physician nominated and voted on by our nursing staff for someone who personally exemplifies the traits that Dr. Stuart naturally embodies and brings to the table anywhere he shows up. It’s really special to be recognized by your peers, but if you’re a doctor, it’s even more special to be recognized by the nurses. That says something about you and the fact that that award is all about Dr. Stuart and who he just is as a person is so inspiring and we get so excited each year when we get to recognize those physicians.”
Whitman, a recipient of the Dr. Hal Stuart Award, pointed out such memorials are only established after someone’s demise.
“It doesn’t happen unless you are very, very special and unique and cherished and loved in the medical community,” said Whitman, “and what’s even more important is if you have that respect and love from the nurses and the staff that you’re always interacting with and making them have work to do. That’s even more special. And that’s Hal Stuart.”
Stuart’s former nurses seemed to have agreed, with several in attendance.
“This is kind of like a reunion for us because a lot of us are here today,” said Phyllis Harris, who served the community as Stuart’s medical assistant during his last 10 years in practice.
“They were great years and we had a great staff. We think the world of Dr. Stuart. It was great working for him and they’re just won’t be anybody any better than him.”
Stuart’s daughter also thinks the world of her dad, especially after learning more about his generosity the day of the award ceremony.
“I did not know this until this morning, his physician’s assistant Phyllis Harris said that he used to do the Boy Scout physicals. They would come in and he’d never charge them,” said Mandy Stroup, “and I never knew it and he would never tell you.
“That’s the type of thing he does. He’s just a sweet man and so thoughtful and he worked hard his whole life and loved what he did.”
“I think all of us in this room would say that this Elkin native has dedicated his whole life to serving others and putting the needs of others ahead of his own,” said Hammes.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.