Hey to mark 50 years in medicine
By BOB DARDEN Staff Writer
“Going through my mind, I thought, Man, I’ve had a fabulous life,” said Hey, 74, who serves as medical director of the Greenwood Leflore Hospital Sleep Disorder Center.
Noting that World War II aviator Jimmy Doolittle’s autobiography is titled “I Could Never Be So Lucky Again,” Hey said, “If I wrote one, it would be ‘I’ve Never Been So Blessed.’”
A native of Greenwood, Hey attended Davis Elementary School. He learned a lot from his father, John Hey Jr., a cotton farm manager, including management and business skills. He said his father was a personable man who “could have run for office.”
“I was valedictorian and all that, but my first love was agriculture. I took all the ag courses they had. I wanted to farm,” he said.
But one day, his father and his mother, the former Margaret Virginia Lay, reminded him of an important fact. “They said, ‘This farming is great, but have you ever thought, we don’t have a farm?’” Hey recalled with a laugh.
That prompted him to look elsewhere for a career. He had been a drum major and loved both music and the sciences. His parents said music wasn’t a good career choice, but they did encourage his love of science, he said.
Hey’s academic career began at Mississippi College, where he said he was “a country boy come to town.” While at the Clinton school, he met his future wife, Nora Lyons of Carrollton, who was majoring in linguistics.
He said he loved chemistry and was a natural at it. His schooling at Mississippi College, which he completed in three years, turned out to be a good primer for medical school.
Although he was offered a teaching position, he didn’t like the idea of working in academia and dealing with funding issues and institutional backbiting. So he took the MCAT and did well on it.
He applied to the University Medical Center in Jackson and was accepted. He said he knew it would be “four years of hell” but resolved to stick it out.
He graduated in 1964, and after getting his medical license, he interned at Mississippi Baptist Hospital as a general practitioner.
In 1965, Uncle Sam came calling, and Hey was made a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. After serving a year at Fort Stewart specializing in obstetrics/gynecology and geriatrics, he was placed in command of a 12-bed Strategic Army Corps medical unit.
He liked the efficiency of military medicine and also “fell in love with the Army corpsmen,” whom he compared to nurse practitioners.
Next stop was South Vietnam, right in the middle of a massive build-up. The U.S. involvement grow from 150,000 to 550,000 by the time of his rotation out after one year in country.
He and his wife ultimately had four children, John Pittman, David, Sarah and Daniel, who is a physician practicing in North Carolina.
“Everybody covered for everybody,” he said. “I could pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to go to Jackson for three days,’ and they’d say, ‘OK, I’ll tend to it.’”
For a time, Hey served as chief endoscopist at the hospital. Later, he served as the director of the hospital’s Geriatric Assessment Center after receiving his board certification in geriatrics.
In addition to the center, Hey has a private medical practice. He also serves as medical director of Golden Age Nursing Home and is one of the few physicians providing flight physicals for pilots.
Contact Bob Darden at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.