Remembering Dr. Cyril Walwyn

By JOSEPH C. THOMAS SR.,

Yazoo City, where the Delta meets the hills, was known for having the state’s first Negro owned and operated hospital. The institution in Yazoo City was the brain-child of the leader of the Afro-American Sons and Daughters, Tom J. Huddleston Sr.

Huddleston was a school teacher, farmer and businessman. He took his idea for the organization to Dr. Lloyd T. Miller and, after careful consideration and study, the two men became its co-founders.

Huddleston campaigned around the state for members, and Dr. Miller took care of the medical end. This Hospital was chartered in 1924 with 1000 members and had built and dedicated a $50,000 Hospital by 1928.

Dr. Miller was the first medical director, and Dr. Robert E. Fullilove was the second director.  To learn more about Dr. Miller and Fullilove please read my book, “Afro- American Sons and Daughters 1849-1949.” The Hospital during its life span had only three medical directors.

The purpose of this story is to look at another true Afro-American hero, Dr. Cyril A. Walwyn, the third medical director of the hospital. Dr. Walwyn will be featured in my second edition “Afro- American Sons and Daughters.” However, let’s take a preview of this great man who made a valuable contribution to his people.

Dr. Walwyn was a very pleasant and capable doctor who was able to fill the shoes of Dr. Miller and Fullilove. Like his predecessors, he lived a very rigid, routine way of life every day of the year. There was very litter dissimilarity between any of his 365 days each year. Dr. Walwyn could have set up his practice anywhere in this country. He was just that good of a doctor. Yet, he chose Yazoo City, with its many evils such as one of the highest infant mortality rates in the United States, very low per capita income, poor housing conditions and separate public accommodations for Negroes.

If you asked him why, he would tell you quickly he was here because he wanted to make a difference by helping sick people who needed medical attention and who did not have a provider.

Mrs. Hattie Bennett was a very prominent and well- respected nurse, who had the title of nursing supervisor, and worked closely to Dr. Walwyn.  She said Mississippi, especially Yazoo City, was blessed to have such a doctor as Walwyn, who could have practiced anywhere in this country.

Mr. James Ingram, who was a longtime resident of Yazoo City, told me that Dr. Walwyn successful operated on him in the mid-1950s and that Yazoo City was blessed to have such a doctor. People came from throughout the state to see the famous Dr. Walwyn.

I can remember how caring he was to his patients since I was one also. Today, I could interview hundreds of people who never will forget this outstanding doctor and the contributions he made to his people.