‘Giant of a man’: Vicksburg residents and associates remember Dr. Paul Pierce III – The Vicksburg Post

Vicksburg lost a beloved physician and community leader to Dr. Paul Pierce III, who passed away on Monday. He was 80 years old.

Services are 11 a.m. on Saturdays at the Crawford Street United Methodist Church with tours starting at 10 a.m. at the church.

“Dr. Pierce was a father figure in my life,” said Dr. Dan Edney, an associate. “It was not just instrumental, but fundamental, for this to happen so that we could build the new hospital. .

“He’s been in the trenches of primary care medicine. He has worked every day of his life to care for patients and the community. Even when most of the doctors would have retired, he was willing to invest in what is now Medical Associates of Vicksburg, ”Edney said.

“He’s done a lot more for Vicksburg than most people realize. He has been a wonderful influence in my life.

“A lot of people have seen the medical side; we got to see the father side of the family, which a lot of people couldn’t see, ”said Pierce’s son, cardiologist Dr Paul Pierce IV. “How much he loved a person and how caring he was towards a father. He put this into his medical practice as well, but we got to see more of his human side. “

Young Pierce said his father was the influence he needed to pursue a medical career.

“I never really thought about anything else I wanted to be other than being a doctor and following in his footsteps,” he said. “He taught us the importance of giving back to the community and practicing medicine in a small town is one of the best ways to do it. “

He said his father practiced medicine until his retirement earlier this year after 46 years.

“It’s a desire to help people,” he said. “He didn’t have to practice until he was 80; that was his vocation and his vocation. He loved his job. “

A native of Oxford who moved to Vicksburg when he was young, Pierce followed his father and became a civil engineer with the US Army Corps of Engineers from 1963 to 1965. He received an honorable discharge from the US Army and worked as a civil engineer. with the Corps when he decided to change his career and become a doctor.

“I didn’t like the idea of ​​sitting behind a desk,” he said in a 2015 Vicksburg Post interview. “The higher you go, the less real engineering you do.”

He enrolled at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and graduated in 1972. He did his internship and residency in internal medicine from 1972 to 1975 at UMMC and opened his practice in Vicksburg in 1975. .

In the Post 2015 interview, Pierce said he was not a big fan of using computers when he saw a patient and took all of his notes by hand during the visit.

“If doctors rely too much on computers, it takes a lot out of the practice of medicine,” he said. “You can tell a lot about patients by talking to them and listening to them. “

“He didn’t like the computer at all,” said Paula Shaw, who worked as a nurse for 16 years. “In fact, he even refused to have one in his office for a while, but they (the clinic) did.

“When I worked for him, we didn’t have computers in the room. He was taking notes on paper, ”Shaw said.

“The way things turned out, he was better (using a computer) than he wanted,” said Pierce’s son Paul.

“Just because of the way medicine has evolved over the last 10 years it has become a necessity and he had to get good and he did,” he said. “The hallmarks of medicine are that you have to adapt to the changes and when they finally moved to an electronic medical record system, it was forced to learn.”

Shaw described Pierce as “one of the busiest doctors in Vicksburg and for a while I was his only nurse so we worked really hard. He was the best doctor I have ever known. He cared about his patients like I have never seen before. He would fight to get what was done right for his patients.

“He worked tirelessly all the time and always said to me, ‘I’m never going to retire; I will probably die here. He worked to the end.

Shaw, who was also one of Pierce’s patients, said he takes great care of all of his patients. “I don’t care who they were; he was the best doctor.

She said Pierce “had a tough outer shell but had a huge heart. If someone was in need, he was the first to help them, whether it was financially, emotionally, whatever. He was still there. I can’t say enough good things about her.

Baliegh Ford, a physician’s assistant for Pierce, said: “Dr. Pierce left a legacy in this city and in my heart. I wonder what kind of PA I would be if he hadn’t given me a chance. I’m happy to say I’ll never have to find out. Because of him, his legacy lives on in me and all the other providers and medical staff he has encountered.

“I was fortunate enough to have one of the greatest opportunities of my life when I was hired to work with Dr. Pierce III right after I graduated from AP school. I was one of the youngest in my PA school program because I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the program straight from undergrad after finishing with top honors.

She said Pierce had high expectations of her staff “which were nothing less than excellence. His level of care for his patients exceeded any doctor I had ever met. He took the time to get to know his patients on a more personal basis.

“If you talk to his patients, you will see that he took care of their parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents. He literally took care of generations of families in Vicksburg. His patients loved him as much as he loved them.

Pierce, Ford said, was also a generous man. “I remember giving her patients $ 100 bills for their 100th birthday on several occasions,” she said.

“For a doctor to be loved by his patients is not surprising,” said Ford. “But for a doctor, being truly loved by his staff is rare and says a lot about who he was.

“To say that I’m heartbroken and his staff are heartbroken is an understatement. He will be missed forever, but his legacy and “the” way of practicing medicine of Dr. Bill Pierce III will live on forever, ”she said.

Pierce, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said, “He was a personal friend of mine and a confidant. In 1987, when I decided to run for the House of Representatives, he was one of the few people in his profession who encouraged me to run, and we’ve been in close contact since then.

Flaggs said he believes Pierce to be one of the most prominent and progressive people to live in this city.

“He has always been encouraged by the progress of this city both medically and from a governance point of view,” said the mayor. “He followed the city of Vicksburg. I spoke with him about three weeks ago and it was one of the most encouraging conversations I have ever had with anyone. I will always remember Dr. Pierce through his great works and great deeds.

Flaggs said the city will “somehow recognize him” and issue a proclamation in honor of Pierce.

“He was a giant man and a pillar in this community both in the medical world and in the civilian world,” Flaggs said.

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