Dr. J. Fred Saunders

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, January 20, 2022

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GREENVILLE – Dr. Jay Fred Saunders, age 93, formerly of Aulander, passed away on Monday, January 17, 2022 at his home in the Cypress Glen community.

J. Fred Saunders was born June 1, 1928 in Aulander, NC. He is predeceased by his father Dr. Sheldon Asa Saunders, mother Myra Aumack Saunders, and brother Francis Stewart Saunders.

Fred attended Bullis Preparatory School then UNC Chapel Hill, completing undergraduate studies in 1950.  He went on to medical school in Chapel Hill, graduating in the first four-year class in 1954 (His father graduated in the first two-year class at UNC medical school 50 years earlier). Upon graduation, he married his childhood sweetheart Lois Lucille Nelson. After one year of family practice residency at the Medical College of Virginia, he felt “called” to enter the U.S. Army, serving in Inchon, Korea, as a Captain in a M.A.S.H hospital unit.

After his Army service and residency completion, Fred returned home to Aulander in October of 1958 to begin his family medicine practice, in a building next to his father. The senior Saunders retired at age 85 after 56 years of service (1916-1972). “Dr. Fred” cared for many of his father’s former patients, their children, and grandchildren throughout their lives. Along with family medicine, Fred practiced obstetrics for the first 25 years of his practice, rarely having any time off from being “on call.” Fred was active on the Roanoke Chowan Hospital staff, which included seeing his patients day and night who came into the Emergency Department, before emergency room physicians were available. He still made time to make “house calls” long after most physicians in the area had ceased doing so. He followed his father’s example by caring for invalids and those with limited means and no transportation. As mental health services were limited in the area, addiction intervention and support were a passionate part of his practice.

Fred retired from full-time service in 1996 after 38 years, continuing to work part-time to transition his patients’ family histories to the new physician, Dr. Simon Khoury, who continues his legacy of rural family practice today. In 2018, Fred was awarded the NC Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his many years of tireless service to his community. For nearly 100 years, Aulander was blessed with a “Dr. Saunders.”

Fred is survived by his wife of 67 years, Lois Nelson Saunders; their three children, Suzanne Woolard and husband John of Kill Devil Hills, Hope Hackler and husband Tom of Wilmington, NC, and son Jay Saunders, Jr. and wife Linda of Kill Devil Hills; niece, Laura Vaughan; and nephew, Robbie Saunders. He was most proud of his four grandchildren and their families, John Woolard III, Sheldon Woolard Peebles and husband Alex of Richmond, Helen Woolard Powell and husband Jesse, of Wilmington, and Powell Hacker and wife Janet of Wilmington, and his three great-grandchildren.

He will be remembered for his wit, story-telling, and genuine kindness and compassion toward everyone. His uncanny memory to never forget a name, face, or family medical history stayed with him until the very end. His greatest joys in retirement were spending time outdoors with fellow artist friends painting scenes of his beloved rural eastern North Carolina and spending time with Lois in Colerain on the Chowan.

A celebration of life memorial service will be held Wednesday, January 26, 2022 at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 113 N Harvey St, Washington, NC 27889, with Rev. Dr. Greg Barmer officiating. The family will receive friends following the service.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Cypress Glen Benevolent Fund, 100 Hickory St. Greenville, NC 27858, or online by visiting tmcfunding.com/search fund. type- Fred Saunders.

Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service – Ahoskie Chapel is handling the arrangements for the Saunders family and online condolences can be directed to the family by visiting www.garrettsykesfs.com.