Remembering Dr. Harry Gregorie
By Telfair H. Parker
I hope everyone was able to read Dr. Harry Gregorie’s obituary in the Post and Courier. It clearly describes an accomplished surgeon and a loving husband and father. Additionally, he was an engaging professional and community leader. Please allow me to reflect on some of my memories of Harry.
I knew Dr. Gregorie and his family long before I entered medical school. Every Christmas Eve before church, they would appear at our home, Harry and Jane first, followed by their seven children in order of age and height. They were all beautifully dressed and well mannered. Harry was first a family man and unquestionably guided by faith.
It was years later that I really came to know and respect Harry. I had completed my surgical residency and joined my father’s former practice, Surgical Associates of Charleston. Dr. Gregorie, along with Dr. Stallworth, were the senior partners.
Harry immediately took me under his wing, and we began seeing patients in the office and hospital. I quickly realized what a kind and compassionate gentleman he was. He would frequently sit at a patient’s bedside making certain they were informed and calmly addressing any questions. When appropriate, he would add a prayer. I assisted him in the operating room, where I witnessed what a skilled surgeon he was.
Even as I began to build my own practice, I would occasionally become discouraged when a patient would call back requesting that Dr. Gregorie perform the operation. Harry would very diplomatically break the news that the patient had said I was too young.
Beginning private practice is simply an extension of one’s ongoing education and training. Harry was a superb teacher with a wealth of knowledge. He was definitely regarded as one of Charleston’s premiere surgeons, and it was an honor to have been mentored by him. During his long career, he taught countless other medical students, surgical residents and his peers.
I am indebted to Harry for his supportive introduction to several surgical organizations of which I am proud to be a member. He was a gracious gentleman in every aspect of the word. One could not help but like and respect him.
Aside from sharing his surgical talents, he included me in many of his outdoor adventures as well. In this role he was a country gentleman. Harry loved the Lowcountry and enjoyed hunting and fishing. I love the story of when Julian Buxton and Harry were hunting ducks in North Carolina. Harry shot several times at a duck and exclaimed, “I know I hit that duck,” followed by the guide announcing, “The duck don’t know it.”
Harry had a witty sense of humor and from time to time enjoyed a little mischievous behavior. When I moved back to Charleston, he insisted that the best way to see his country property was by horseback. Knowing I was apprehensive of horses, he assured me he had a gentle one. It was a wild ride, however, and I quickly realized Harry only had two horses — and he was on the gentle one.
My wife, Hopie, reminds me I would be remiss not to mention Jane. She is an amazing force in the Gregorie family. What a tribute to boast a marriage of more than 65 years! Hopie loved Harry and remembers him as always being happy and cheerful with a twinkle in his eye.
Despite our age difference, Harry and I had a genuine, close friendship that I will always cherish and for which I will always be grateful.
Telfair H. Parker, M.D. is a retired surgeon living in Charleston.