GLASGOW — One of a kind!
Dr. William Marrs truly exemplified that phrase. Ask any of his patients, his church family or the medical community, Doc was one of a kind.
That sentiment was echoed through the community as word quickly spread of his death this week.
Dr. Marrs suffered a stroke while seeing patients at his medical office three weeks ago. Our community quickly rallied around him and his family praying for a miracle that never came. We as humans wanted to keep our friend and doctor with us, but God had other plans.
As a patient of Dr. Marrs for three decades, I have personally witnessed his amazing ability to connect with his patients. I know how much he cared not only for his family, but his patients and their families. That love for others spread into the community with his commitment to young people. He served as team physician for the Glasgow High football team during the 1980s and ‘90s and taught senior high Sunday school class at the First United Methodist Church for 25 years.
I will never forget that mischievous smile, his kindness and his uncanny knack for lighthearted humor. Behind that smile was his ability to often hide the pain that he had suffered during the past few years. When he entered your exam room, he would usually respond with “it’s a good day, how do you feel?” It was really hard to complain about your aches and pains after a greeting like that.
His youngest son and my youngest daughter were in the same class in school, this gave our families many opportunities to work together on school and community activities and make memories that I will always cherish.
He took great pride in his “country doctor” style of medicine. Whether you are for or against the sweeping changes in healthcare, here and throughout our nation, there is no doubt in my mind that the “country doctor” is quickly fading from the medical field. I often heard him describe himself as a doctor who “patched you up and sent you somewhere else,” referring to an expert in whatever field your medical problem might be.
I can only speak for myself, but I prefer that country style of medical care that only he had the talent of providing to his patients. In no way am I trying to compare his medical skills to other physicians in our community, I believe we are blessed with many physicians who are talented and dedicated to their profession. He was blessed with a bedside manner of practicing medicine that is just not seen that much today.
I believe Doc’s style of medical care took root from his life as a child. His father was postmaster and operated a general store in the Mount Hermon community. He often spoke about his parents and his life growing up. In an obituary that his family prepared they said “His dedication to hard work and helping others laid the foundation for his dedication to education and the desire to practice medicine.”
Dr. Marrs spent his last days on earth at University Hospital in Louisville, the same hospital at which he did his medical residency more than 30 years ago. During his residency, a group of men would sing in the halls and rooms of some patients on Sunday morning. He was so impressed by this outpouring of love for others he brought his father from Mount Hermon to Louisville one Sunday just to hear them. His wife, Maria, remembered this group and was able to have them come by Doc’s room on Sunday mornings. Without a doubt I know when he left this earthly world he took the melody of that group with him.
During a routine visit to his office you not only got the medical attention you needed, but usually a Q&A about how your children and grandchildren were doing. In turn, he flashed that smile when talking about his children and grandchildren, of which he took great pride. During the time he spent with one patient, I am sure other doctors could have seen two other patients. His philosophy toward medical care was quality, not quantity. Just recently the two of us were talking about days gone and discovered that we were probably related to each other. We never had the opportunity to confirm that, but I choose to believe that our Bowman ancestors were related.
I had an appointment with Dr. Marrs only days before he became ill. I thank God for that visit. That is not the usual reaction one might have of going to the doctor, but I was blessed by being able to have his “country doctor” style of care that day. I will never forget the words we shared about family, life’s ups and downs and his concerns over the future of family practice medical care. My son-in-law is a physician, although he lives and works in New York, he had several opportunities to meet and talk with Dr. Marrs. I know the respect he gained from a mentor who took the time to talk and share stories about his medical career with him.
Bill Marrs’ legacy will live on in the minds and memories of his patients, his church family and the teens who learned from his teachings and our community.
RIP Doc. You have touched the lives of many. Your loss will leave an empty spot in the hearts of all who were fortunate to have known and loved you.
Connie Pickett is the retired news editor for the Glasgow Daily Times and a close friend and former patient for Dr. William Marrs.