Leila Alice Daughtry Denmark
2019 Inductee, Georgia Women of Achievement
“If I can help one of these little angels, he or she may someday discover a cure for cancer.”
– Dr. Denmark
February 1, 1898
April 1, 2012
City, Town, RegionAthens, GA
Dr. Denmark, ne’ Leila Daughtry, was born in 1898 in Bulloch County, Ga. She graduated from Tift College in 1922. She then became a school teacher in chemistry and biology holding positions in Forsyth, Acworth and Claxton. Her call to medicine was so strong that she enrolled at the Medical College of the University of Georgia, where she earned her MD in 1928, and was admitted to practice medicine. After further training at Egleston hospital and the prestigious Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she opened her private practice in then somewhat rural Alpharetta, Ga. She continued to practice there for an amazing 70 years, finally retiring at 103 years young.
It was not uncommon for her to see children whose parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents she cared for! So great is her impact on pediatrics in Georgia that in 2002 the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, re-named its Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor it bestows on a physician, the Leila Denmark Award.
Her awards were numerous and represented the many organizations she touched or who benefited from her care, research, volunteer service, or leadership. These included: Honorary President, Georgia Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics; Distinguished Alumni Award, Mercer University; Medal of Honor, Daughters of the American Resolution; Lifetime Achievement Award, Atlanta Business Chronicle; and an Honorary Doctorate, Emory University.
Dr. Denmark was a legendary pediatrician and only the 3rd woman in 1928 to graduate from the Medical College of Georgia. She went on to intern—the very first there--at the Egleston Children’s where she admitted the first patient to that hospital. In 1931 she opened a private practice in Alpharetta where she practiced until she retired at the age of 103. She conducted early research on the treatment and vaccine for whopping cough (pertussis) and authored a book, “Every Child Should Have a Chance” in 1936.
She is an icon in Georgia pediatrics not just for her sustained career and longevity, but for her exemplary patient care, research, teaching abilities, and pioneering leadership as a woman in medicine in Georgia. She lived with her daughter in Athens until her death in 2012 at the age of 114.