Gandfather's Obituary

Local Physician Passes Away Last Thursday Morning

The Funeral services were conducted last Sunday afternoon at the First Baptist Church in Judsonia for Dr. Wylie Robert Felts, who passed away in the early morning hours of November 17th, 1955, as the result of a heart attack. Dr. Felts was born March 29, 1887 in Sharp County, Arkansas. He was the son of Thomas Jefferson Felts and Almyra Felts. Although in failing health for a number of months, he continued to work through the last day. This was one of the characteristics which had been present throughout his life of service to humanity... duty before self.

Dr. Felts had many facets to his life and service. Foremost of these was the medical care of his patients throughout this district of the state, and for many years he was the only active physician in Judsonia. As such he became doctor, counselor, guardian, and friend to most of those he treated. His influence and wisdom have been widely sought.

Born on a farm in Sharp County, Arkansas on March 29, 1889[1], Dr. Felts was the second of six children. Preparation for his life’s work was not easy for he had to struggle to complete his formal education in the Medical School of the University of Tennessee. After his graduation in 1914 he came to Judsonia as an associate of the late Dr. W. H. L. Woodyard. His ministrations to the needs of the people of Judsonia, White County, and surrounding sections of the state were interrupted only once prior to his demise, and that was the occasion of the first world war when Dr. Felts became 1st Lt. Felts in the Medical Corps and served for two years with the A. E. F. in France. He returned to Judsonia in 1919 and rapidly assumed his cloak of civic responsibility.

During the ensuing years he did not shirk the demands of his profession, and his hours were gruelling[sic] and hard. Day and night he worked faithfully to bring comfort and relief to his patients, and adverse weather conditions and irregular hours were no deterring factor to the hardy young man. His assumption of responsibility for the welfare of his friends and neighbors only began with his profession, however. From a position as member of the city council he advanced in 1926 to become mayor of Judsonia, a post he was to retain for the next 25 years. As mayor he devoted his energies to multiple civic improvements and, despite the ravages of weather, depression, and time, many constructions remain as mute evidence of his civic pride. He also served as a director of the Farmers and Merchants bank for many years. As President of the local school board the best of educational facilities for Judsonia was almost an obsession with him. His interest in the young people extended beyond the school system and into the Boy Scout movement, an interest he continued to maintain throughout the years. He was at one time Commander of the Earl Rogers Post of the American Legion, which he helped organize. Membership in the Woodmen of the World, and service for years as an officer in the local Masonic lodge were his foremost fraternal interests. He was a 32 degree Mason. His interest in the politics of his town, county, district, state, and nation were renowned as he sought to strive for the betterment of his chosen land. Along this line he served as chairman of the White County Republican committee and this brought him on one occasion a citation from President Herbert Hoover. Good[2].

Dr. Felts and his wife were in their drug store in the late afternoon of that fateful day in March, 1952 when the tornado destroyed most of the town. The store was demolished and both of them narrowly escaped death from the falling debris, and as a result of the injuries received both were hospitalized for many weeks. Dr. Felts never fully recovered from these injuries, but returned nonetheless to the practice of his profession stating in his homely way that preferred “to wear out and not rust out.”

Although always a man of high moral principle he did not turn to active church work until 1951. During his last years he devoted himself to this field with the same zeal, vigor, and manifestations of his basic inherent wisdom which had previously characterized other pursuits. Nothing pleased him more than to spread the gospel and Christian precepts to those who had not taken a stand for service to our Saviour. He became truly as concerned for the souls of his patients as for their bodies. The words of the eminent and famous southern physician, Dr. Crawford W. Long, which are inscribed upon his statue in the Hall of Statuary, Capital Building, in Washington, “I feel my profession is a commission from God” most appropriately also serve to describe the life and service of Judsonia’s remarkable citizen. His example to the community should long remain an inspiration, for in addition to a citizen, patriot, doctor, politician, churchman, and counselor the people of this area have been left by a very dear friend.

Funeral services were conducted Sunday afternoon at the First Baptist Church in Judsonia. Rev. R. J. McMillan of Jacksonville and Rev. W. R. Woodell of the local church officiated. Beautiful solos were rendered by Mrs. J. H. Graves and Mr. Arle Queen. Mrs. McMillan played organ selections softly during the service.

Dr. Felts is survived by his wife, Mrs. Willie Felts; a son, Dr. W. R. Felts, Jr., of Washington D.C. and a grandson, William Robert Felts III, a brother, Charles Felts of Clarksville, Texas and a sister Mrs. P. D. Carpenter of Batesville, Arkansas.

The active pall bearers were: Jimmy Gill, Raymond Browning, J. A. Pence, Forrest Waller, W. H. Hembree and Don Travis.

Internment was in the Evergreen Cemetery under the direction of Kinney Funeral Home.

White County Record
Judsonia, Arkansas, Thursday, November 24, 1955
Volume 45, Number 44
$2.00 in County, $2.50 Elsewhere

[1] This is not a transcription error. The article listed both 1887 and 1889 as year of birth.
[2] It is unclear what this is.
[3] Scan of his obituary.

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