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School of Health Sciences honors eight 2019 Healthcare Legends of East Winston

Healthcare Legends of East Winston 2019 honorees: Front Row (from left): Quilla Montgomery Smith '68; Dr. Nancy Gannaway; Helen Peacock Phillips, accepting for the late Dr. Beverly Washington Knight; Clara Douglas '61; and Dr. James D. Branch.
Back Row (from left): Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson; Rody Wilder, accepting for his sister, Sandra Wilder, Morticia Parmon,  accepting for the late N.C. Sen. Earline Parmon; Dean Celia Hooper; Thomas L. Clarke Jr., accepting for the late Dr. Thomas L. Clarke Sr.

Winston-Salem State University's School of Health Sciences (SOHS) honored eight people who have made a positive impact on the health and wellness of the residents of East Winston at the Third annual Healthcare Legends of East Winston event on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

“For the third year in a row the School of Health Sciences is proud to recognize legends who made healthcare possible when African American residents had very limited access to quality healthcare,” said Dr. Celia Hooper, interim dean of the School of Health Sciences. “Dr. Peggy Valentine, former SOHS dean (now interim chancellor at Fayetteville State University) began the tradition of honoring those in our community who helped to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. This event once again gave our community pride in our history, and we are so pleased that our students and new health care professionals learned about the legacy of these exceptional people.” 

PHOTO GALLERY: Third annual Healthcare Legends of East Winston  

Honorees are:

  • Dr. James D. Branch, who first practiced ophthalmology in the Winston-Salem community in 1977. Branch also has served as chair of the WSSU Board of Trustees, chair of the WSSU Foundation Board of Directors and chair of WSSU’s Board of Visitors.
  • Dr. Thomas L. Clarke Sr., who became the first African-American board certified OB/GYN in Forsyth County in 1967. Clarke later served as the director of obstetrics-gynecology at Reynolds Memorial Hospital and also as director of the Forsyth Medical Center OB/GYN division from 1976-78. During his 36-year career, he delivered more than 5,000 babies.
  • Dr. Sylvia A. Flack, a WSSU alumna who returned to her alma mater in 1989 as the founding dean of the School of Health Sciences. During her time at WSSU, she helped to revitalize the nursing program. In 2006, she founded the WSSU Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Health Disparities, which has served as a model for similar programs throughout the nation.
  • Dr. Nancy Gannaway, the first African-American, female dentist in Forsyth County. Gannaway served the East Winston community for more than 50 years. She was the first woman to earn the DDS degree from the Howard University School of Dentistry and was the first African American president of the Winston-Salem chapter of Altrusa international. She led several community and professional organizations, including the Old North State Dental Society where she mentored future generations of African-American dentists in North Carolina.
  • Dr. Beverly Washington Knight, who helped establish the School of Nursing at what was then Winston-Salem Teachers College in 1953. Knight traveled to Georgia, New York and Tennessee to ask hospitals for assistance to provide clinical space for nursing students. She left Winston-Salem in 1963 to pursue several decades of working in nursing and hospital administration.
  • Sen. Earline Parmon ‘77, who became the first African-American woman from Forsyth County elected to the North Carolina Senate, representing the 32nd District. She also served in the North Carolina House of Representatives and as a member of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners. Parmon was an educator who also served in the U.S. Army Reserves. Parmon and Rep. Larry Womble ‘63 championed various pieces of legislation together, including passing compensation for victims of the state’s eugenics sterilization program.
  • Helen Peacock Phillips, who served as a staff nurse on the operating floor of the Kate B. Reynolds Memorial Hospital, and as out-patient clinic supervisor for the Forsyth County Health Department. She also served the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools for 10 years as a teacher. She also worked tirelessly with a committee to obtain a historical marker that was installed at the site of the original Kate B. Reynolds Memorial Hospital in 2012.
  • Sandra I. Wilder ’67, who served as staff nurse, nurse supervisor and nurse educator at Forsyth Memorial Hospital. In 1989, Wilder spearheaded efforts from nursing alumni to secure thousands of signatures on a petition to prevent the closure of WSSU’s nursing program. She also served as the first president of the Nursing Alumni Organization.

The luncheon also included a conversation with early School of Health Sciences alumni and faculty. Participants this year were: Dr. Bettie Glenn, Milliceson Rodwell Hayes and Quilla Montgomery Smith ‘68. Randon Pender ’85 was the moderator.

The presenting sponsor for the luncheon was Northwest Area Health Education Center with sponsorship by the WSSU National Nurses Alumni Association.

The luncheon was part of WSSU's Homecoming.

MORE: Homecoming 2019: 10 Unforgettable Moments

WSSU's School of Health Sciences, an ethnically diverse school that embraces health equity in education, research and service. For more information, please visit the SOHS website.

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment. 

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