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The Power of Perseverance

The Power of Perseverance

April 24, 2024

Perseverance

Webster’s defines perseverance as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.  And W.C. Fields famously said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”

Most of us have had situations in our lives where we were frustrated, even angered.  And how we choose to react and deal with those situations to a great deal defines who we are.  In fact, I think one of the greatest life lessons we can leave our kids and our grandkids is the power of perseverance . . . of plowing through and moving forward when circumstances seemed to be stacked against us.

So let me share a story about perseverance that I found particularly inspiring, and I hope you do as well.

Back in the early 1950’s there was a very smart and talented student from Fairmont High School in Griffin, Georgia named Marion Gerald Hood.  He was such an amazing student he graduated high school and began college at the age of 17!  After earning his bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1959 he applied to Emory University Medical School.  His grades were stellar and so were his board scores.

His application, however, was rejected.  I have a copy of this rejection letter and it has one very chilling sentence in it.  The Director of Admissions, one Mr. Clegg, writes “I am sorry that I must inform you that we are not authorized to even consider your application because you are a member of the Negro race, and I regret that we cannot help you.”

This letter was dated August 5, 1959 . . . certainly a different time in our country, but one can only imagine how devastating it must have been to be on the receiving end of this admission rejection letter.

But Mr. Hood persevered . . . he applied to and was offered a spot at Loyola University of Chicago Medical College.  With the assistance of the Dean of the college, who helped him apply for financial aid, and a local priest, whose congregation helped to ensure that he had regular meals, Marion earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from Loyola in 1965.  It was at this time that Dr. Hood did his residency at St. Joseph Hospital in downtown Chicago.

After completing his residency, he enlisted in the United States Army Medical Corp and served in Vietnam.  Once his military duty was complete, he returned to Georgia and opened a private obstetrics practice in 1974.  From that time until his retirement in 2008, he delivered more than 7,000 babies!

Then, in 2012 he came out of retirement to work part time for a non-profit network of six community health centers in Meriwether, Pike, Lamar, Carroll, Coweta and South Fulton Counties.  In all, he has worked as an obstetrician for 50 years and has certainly made a tangible difference in the lives of many Georgia families.

Now, it would have been very easy for Dr. Hood to give up on his dreams of becoming a doctor . . . but he found a way.  And this may be one of the most genuine and fervent cases of perseverance that I have ever known.  And I hope his story has inspired you as much as it inspired me.

Ray