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Reflections with Sammy Way: Sumter physician honored for service to his community, country in WWI

Posted 12/21/19

Reflections remembers Dr. Warren H. Burgess, who served as Sumter's physician beginning in 1914 while also a member of the staff of Tuomey Hospital. He volunteered for the American Expeditionary Force in the Medical Corps and went to Europe during …

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Reflections with Sammy Way: Sumter physician honored for service to his community, country in WWI

Posted

Reflections remembers Dr. Warren H. Burgess, who served as Sumter's physician beginning in 1914 while also a member of the staff of Tuomey Hospital. He volunteered for the American Expeditionary Force in the Medical Corps and went to Europe during World War I, and he was stationed in France and Germany. As a citizen, he was active in the Episcopal Church and the Rotary Club.

The following information was obtained from an article published in The Sumter Daily Item in July 1945. The photos utilized were obtained from The Sumter Item archives.

"Dr. Warren H. Burgess, city physician, was presented the Heath award for public service last night at a dinner given in the Coca-Cola Community Room. It was the fifth-annual award given by A.T. Heath, president of the Carolina Coca-Cola Bottling Co. The selection of the recipient is made yearly by a committee from the civic clubs of Sumter. Previous winners of the award have been Congressman John J. Riley, F.B. Creech, H.C. Bland and Miss Antonia Gibson. A.T. (Fred) Heath Jr. presided in his father's absence and expressed Mr. Heath's regrets that ill health prevented his coming. Miss Antonia Gibson presented the award, a silver service."

"Dr. Burgess was born in Stateburg in 1888 and was married to the former Miss Daisy Munnerlyn of Georgetown. They had three children: Mrs. Kirk McLeod, Mrs. Murray Fant and Sgt. Francis M. Burgess, who was stationed at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, during World War II. He was a graduate of the Charleston Medical College and served as city physician for 41 years.

"In presenting the award, Miss Gibson said that the committee had chosen wisely. She said she had been associated with Dr. Burgess for many years and knew personally of his unselfish devotion to mankind, regardless of station in life. She stated further that Dr. Burgess had a keen sense of humor and that his personality in the sick room was a great help to his patients. She paid tribute to the fact that he responded night and day to appeals for help. During the awards ceremony, a wire from "Congressman Riley, expressing regret at being unable to attend, was read.

"Guests at the ceremony were members of the Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions and Pilot clubs; also, members of City Council and County Board of Commissioners were in attendance. There were special guests from Shaw Field, and a total of 240 were present, and an excellent dinner was served. Dr. Burgess accepted the honor with these words: 'I am too embarrassed to make a speech, but I have never before heard of anyone getting a silver service for nothing.'

RICH, POOR PATIENTS WERE TREATED ALIKE

"Dr. Burgess had an office at 8 Caldwell St. where he saw his private patients as well as his city cases.

"The arrangement was his idea and was brought about through his desire to relieve charity patients of self-consciousness about their station. "Anyone seeing a patient going in or out had no way of knowing that he was a city case.

"Besides conducting activities around the focal point of the office, Dr. Burgess made home visits night and day and at any hour. He was greatly aided in his work by the city, which had always given him the medicine he requested for his work with needy patients."

Burgess died in July 1967.