John William Morris (1875–1979)
John William Morris was a long-time physician in Woodruff County who practiced medicine until the age of 101. Beginning in 1950, the Arkansas Medical Association (AMA) recognized Morris as the oldest practicing physician in Arkansas. In 1973, the AMA and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” recognized him as the oldest full-time practicing physician in the United States.
J. W. Morris was born on February 6, 1875 at Honey Hill (White County) to George Louis and Sarah Seawell Morris. He had ten siblings.
Morris began his practice near McCrory (Woodruff County) on April 21, 1900. He married Amma Gray Burkett on December 19, 1901, and they had two children.
Morris estimated that he delivered more than 7,000 babies during his career. In 1950, Morris’s birthday was celebrated with a parade attended by thousands of people. That event started an annual birthday party celebrated by the whole community.
On his 100th birthday, the three national television networks were on hand to record the event, and he was featured on their daily news shows. The next day, Morris was back at work and treated twenty-five patients at his clinic.
Morris died on March 13, 1979. Morris Clinic still stands on Main Street in McCrory.
For additional information:
Davis, Charles M. “A Tribute to John William Morris, M.D.” Rivers and Roads and Points In Between 3 (Winter 1975): 2–7.
Paula Harmon Barnett
Last Updated: 11/14/2006