Love at first sight….times two

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019

John Hampton Stanley, MD, never served as my full-time doctor, but he was my full-time friend.

He arrived in Woodland in 1955, two years after I was born. My mom was a patient of Dr. Gus McLean in Murfreesboro at that time. It was Dr. McLean who brought me into this world and provided my medical care throughout childhood.

I started seeing Dr. Stanley later in my teenage years. For one, I liked his style and really liked the fact that you didn’t need an appointment….just walk in and he would “fix what ailed you” and dole out some inspirational advice at the same time.

While in high school, I became infected with athlete’s foot….that came from taking showers on that grungy tile in the boy’s locker room after PE classes. It would flare up on occasion and I was able to keep it basically in-check by using over-the-counter medication.

But there was one time when it really reared its ugly head in a big way. My feet felt as though they were on fire.

I paid Doc Stanley a visit. He took one look at my feet, grabbed his pad and scribbled out a prescription to have filled by the famous Huck Bolton of Bolton Drugs in downtown Woodland. Doc had ordered some type of pill that would be dissolved in water and I was to soak my feet in that concoction twice a day for one week.

But Doc’s cure came with a warning.

“Now, Calvin,” Dr. Stanley said in his typical Southern drawl. “This medicine is deadly to animals, so after soaking your feet, take the container outside, dig a hole, and pour it in the hole and cover it up good.”

I thought to myself….is Doc trying to kill me?

Nope….his prescription worked wonders. My athlete’s foot was cured and I haven’t had a major flare-up now for nearly 50 years. And, to my knowledge, no animal was harmed during the process.

Another story I’ll share about Doc had to do with my daddy, who during his life suffered from sporadic bouts with kidney stones.

I remember one particular occasion when dad woke up on a Sunday morning in excruciating pain. Mom made a quick call to Doc Stanley who arrived about 15 minutes later. He gave dad a shot for pain and left.

Doc never asked for any money for his house call. A week or so later, dad drove to Woodland to see Doc and asked how much he owned him.

“Five dollars; and if you can’t pay that all at one time, then you can make payments,” Doc replied.

That was so typical of an old-fashioned country doctor who everyone grew to love and admire.

Those that sought him out as a medical doctor and/or as a friend lost that connection last week when Dr. John Stanley passed away March 2 at the age of 92.

However, there is a silver lining as those of us who were fortunate enough to know him can keep Doc alive in our hearts and with our stories. We can look back with deep affection on the life he lived outside his medical practice….a lifetime of community service as he held the job as Mayor of Woodland for 30 years and also was a member of the Woodland Volunteer Fire Department for 44 years. He was also a member of the Woodland Men’s Club.

In February of 2016, he retired as Medical Director of the Northampton County Health Department, a position he held for nearly 50 years.

But he never retired from the job he loved so dearly. He was still “curing what ailed you” until becoming hospitalized one week prior to his death. He not only cared for his patients, he loved them as well as maintaining a deep affection for the Town of Woodland.

That became very evident to me during an interview I had with Doc back in November of 2013 when the Woodland firemen hosted “Dr. Stanley Day.” I asked Doc how he found his way to this tiny town, one without a stoplight.

He answered that he found it while researching openings for doctors in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

“I thought at that time that Woodland was the best thing for me…, 58 years later (in 2013), I still feel the same way,” he smiled while answering my question. “It was love at first sight.”

And in return we loved what we saw in that man as well.

Rest in peace, Doc….you will be greatly missed.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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