Also in this issue
IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
Cardiologist J. Willis Hurst was LBJ's physician and friend for eighteen years
The back of the large, gold Rolex watch that Lyndon Baines Johnson, the thirty-sixth president of the United States, gave to J. Willis Hurst bears the inscription, "To JWH Love LBJ."
Even though the gift is a symbol of the almost two-decade-long friendship they shared, the watch is also a somewhat somber reminder of the winter day a few weeks before he died in 1973 that Johnson presented the watch to him. It was the last time Hurst saw the former president.
Professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Emory from 1957 to 1986 and a world-renowned cardiologist who has written or edited more than fifty books, Hurst served as Johnson's personal cardiologist for eighteen years. The two became extremely close, and Hurst saw sides of the president that few people were privy to. In his recent book, LBJ: To Know Him Better, co-written with the late James C. Cain, a physician who also attended Johnson, Hurst endeavors to balance the public perception of Johnson by presenting anecdotes from himself and dozens of others that reveal the human being behind the architect of the Great Society.
"I didn't want to write a book detailing his medical conditions and medical care," explains Hurst from his office on the third floor of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Library. Though he stepped down as chairman of the Department of Medicine a decade ago, Hurst remains a consultant to the cardiology division and teaches seven sessions a week.
"I've never felt it was my place to do that, yet I felt that from my vantage point of having been with him over an eighteen-year period and having been not only his physician but also a friend to him and his entire family, I saw a side of him that the books and articles had never touched on. Much of what has been written has been in the big context of his position in the government, and what was missing was a look at him as a person.
"Jim Cain and I saw him through thick and thin. We saw him when he was well; we saw him when he was sick. We saw him when he was happy; we saw him when he was sad. We saw him when things were going well; we saw him when things were going poorly. We saw him under nearly all circumstances. We saw things that are not in those books and articles, and we felt that we really ought to do this to show a side of him that people perhaps didn't understand. We wanted to present the human side."
The book is organized as a series of anecdotes, including reminiscences from Gregory Peck and former U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, wrote the foreword. One of the things that emerges is Johnson's verve and sense of humor. "He was absolutely hilarious when he wanted to be," says Hurst.
Johnson's sense of humor came out when he played practical jokes. Hurst especially likes the story told by Rufus Youngblood who was in charge of Johnson's Secret Service. Apparently when the then-Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford and his wife were visiting the LBJ ranch, President Johnson entertained them in the following way.
"At the ranch, he had a vehicle that would go on land and on water," says Hurst. "He gets [Clifford and his wife] into this vehicle and starts driving down the road. Then, all of a sudden, he just veers off down through the trees and the lawn into the Pedernales River. Well, you can imagine this must have terrified them, because they didn't know it was an amphibious vehicle."
In the book, Clifford recalls that "this was a sort of initiation that he would give to unsuspecting guests. The president had a wonderful laugh out of it; he contended that [we] had responded with the most dramatic degree of panic he had yet witnessed."
Johnson's compassion for others also comes out in the book. Hurst says that during Johnson's years as a Texas congressman, he relished getting things done for his constituents, like helping a rural farmer receive electricity at his house. When he became president, Johnson had fewer opportunities to have that kind of personal impact, but when he got the chance, he didn't pass it up.
Hurst says the best example of that side of Johnson can be found in a story the president's pastor told him. "Apparently, a letter appeared on the president's desk that detailed that a little child in a foreign country needed an operation and couldn't get it," Hurst recounts. "So Johnson calls his aide in and says, 'Get this child over here and let's get her this operation. Bring the mother and father, too, so the child won't feel alone.' The aide sort of interrupts and says, 'Mr. President, you can't do that for every request here.' And he says, 'I know I can't do that for every request, but I can do that for this one. And we will do it, now. And by the way, if you don't want me to answer my mail, don't put it on my desk.' "
Of all the time he spent with him, Hurst says Johnson may have been at his best the evening of the Kennedy assassination. Rumors were circulating that Johnson was having some pain in his arm, a sign of a possible heart attack, and Hurst flew from a meeting in New York to check on President Johnson in Washington at The Elms, the vice presidential mansion.
"We were sitting in the little den," recalls Hurst, "and he was drinking some orange juice. He would occasionally look up at [a picture of former Speaker of the House] Sam Rayburn, who was one of his mentors, and say, I wish you were here now. He was looking a little bit at television, but he didn't like to look at the event on film. He was getting his mind in order, figuring out how he was going to make this transition.
"He was so skilled at pulling things together that the country did not falter or wonder if we were in good hands or not. At the same time he was doing all he could to comfort Mrs. Kennedy in every possible way. So picking up the reins of government at the same time thinking about her, it could hardly have been handled better by anybody."--J.D.T.
RESTART THE PRESSES
A journalism program returns to Emory
The book on journalism is once again open at Emory.
For the first time since the University dismantled its Division of Journalism in 1952, undergraduates will have the option to minor in the subject. Loren F. Ghiglione, the first James M. Cox Jr. Professor in Journalism, will lead the new journalistic charge.
"The focus of the program will be on reporting and writing," says Ghiglione. "My feeling is that whatever students wind up doing, this will be valuable for them."
The author or editor of seven books, including The American Journalist: Paradox of the Press, Ghiglione earned his doctorate in American civilization from George Washington University and served as editor of The News in Southbridge, Massachusetts, from 1969 to 1995. His position was created last year out of a $1.35 million grant from the James M. Cox Jr. Foundation earmarked for undergraduate journalism studies.
Brian Reid, editor in chief of the Emory Wheel, says students are excited about the new program. "There's definitely a feeling that this is really a good thing, and certainly some of the [underclassmen] are really looking forward to it," he says. Reid also admits there are some mixed feelings among upperclassmen. "Among some of the older people, it's more a sense of regret that they're not going to have the chance to go through the program. It would have been wonderful if we could have gotten the grant ten years ago, but it's only going to mean good things for the paper and for journalism at Emory as a whole."
Even though it has taken forty-five years to get it back on the list of available degrees, journalism was at one time a major force on campus. Emory offered its first course in the field in 1912. Student interest grew, and a Department of Journalism was created in 1928. That expanded into the Division of Journalism in 1940, offering graduate and undergraduate degrees.
The program earned a stellar reputation, offering the South's first course in radio news writing, but a decision was made in 1952 to cancel the division; administrators cited a growing duplication of resources with the University of Georgia's journalism school. Students interested in journalism could still write for the Wheel, but until this year no concentration was offered.
To earn the new journalism minor, students must complete five courses, including basic reporting, advanced reporting, and journalism ethics. According to Ghiglione, the minor will help students learn to write well, and they can then apply those skills to their major field of study.
"We are very interested in getting undergraduates from a variety of disciplines, whether it's physics or economics or biology, and encouraging them to write for a lay audience," he explains.
"Hopefully, they could cover some complicated subjects better than we do now, and I think these subjects are going to get even more complicated. If we can turn out someone who would write for the New York Times or work at CNN who could better explain some of these complicated issues, that would be great."
In addition to making a reporting internship available, Ghiglione wants students to have the opportunity to travel abroad after they've completed the advanced reporting class. He is considering sending Emory journalism students to South Africa, where they would report on issues common to both Atlanta and that nation.
"They could report on public housing in Atlanta, but then they could examine housing issues in Johannesburg," he says. "It would be interesting for the students not only because of the journalism, but it has been my experience that being plopped down into a different society is the kind of experience you remember all your life."--J.D.T.
THREE OF A KIND
Emory College Class of 2000 includes a set of triplets
A little more than a year after standout Emory pitchers and identical twins Jeff and Scott Kramer '95C began playing professional baseball, another remarkable set of siblings entered Emory College. Triplets Natalie, Katie, and Heather Carpenter of Tampa joined the Class of 2000 on matching partial-merit grants.
The rate of triplet births when Natalie, Katie, and Heather were born, on October 17, 1978, was 1 in 8,100, compared to a twin-birth frequency of 1 in 80.
Graduates of the International Baccalaureate Program at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, each of the sisters had initially picked a separate college, but eventually all decided to apply to Emory as their first choice.
"We talked to our mom about it," explains Heather. "And we finally came to the conclusion that we didn't want to split up after all these years."
All three Carpenters have chosen premedical courses of study. Natalie, who was born first, is interested in epidemiology; Katie, born next, has wanted to be a brain surgeon "since the seventh grade"; and Heather is considering microbiology. Natalie and Heather are lab assistants at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Katie works at the O. Wayne Rollins Research Center on campus.
The sisters aren't roommates, but they meet for supper every day. Natalie and Heather are cheerleaders for Emory's basketball team, and all three participate in Outdoor Emory activities.
"We used to get tired of each other because we were around each other all the time," Katie says. "But now I make time to go see these guys."--A.O.A.
SPINNING FOR DOLLARS
Thayer Gallison '98C cashes in on Wheel of Fortune
It may not look like it on television, but according to Emory College junior Thayer Gallison, the wheel used on the Wheel of Fortune game show "weighs a ton." He should know--the political science major recently won more than $70,000 in cash and prizes, including a new Chevrolet Camaro, during the program's College Week.
A long-time fan of the show, Gallison told the Emory Wheel that "meeting Pat Sajak and Vanna White was very cool. To see them on TV for years and then to be suddenly thrust on stage to meet them was somewhat overwhelming." Gallison says he is going to invest his newly earned wealth. "It's the smart thing," he says.
Gallison is one of many with an Emory education to amass riches on America's game show circuit. According to Lloyd Busch, former coach of the Emory College Bowl academic team, at least eight Emory alumni have appeared on the quiz show Jeopardy!, racking up combined winnings of more than $300,000.
The latest to cash in was Michael Dupee '88C, who took home $100,000 on the show's Tournament of Champions just after Thanksgiving. Busch, who coached most of the future Jeopardy! players while they were at Emory, calls them "an amazing group."--J.D.T.
DOCUMENTING THE NASHVILLE MYSTIQUE
Historian John W. Rumble '74C gathers the treasures of country music's heritage
When John Rumble listens to a country song, he hears more than pedal steel guitars, high lonesome harmonies, and heartache. His job as historian for the Country Music Foundation in Nashville has endowed his listening with a rare depth and breadth, and he has worked to share that appreciation with thousands of others. Since he joined the foundation staff in 1982, some two hundred fifty country music personalities have told him the stories behind the stars and songs in recorded oral histories.
"Country music is still relatively young as an industry," says Rumble, a 1974 Emory College alumnus who went on to earn his master's and doctoral degrees in history from Vanderbilt University. "Many of the folks who were around in the late 1920s are still here and in their eighties and nineties. So if you want to know something, you just call them up."
The historian's efforts to develop the foundation's archive of more than twelve hundred interviews have brought him close to well-known figures such as singer Kitty Wells, guitarist Chet Atkins, comic Benjamin "Whitey" Ford (a.k.a. "The Duke of Paducah"), and the late bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe-all of whom have been Country Music Hall of Fame inductees. "I get to meet people I've admired for years," Rumble says. "I re-live their lives with them."
Rumble has emerged as an authority on the lives of some of country's legendary personalities. He has compiled and written liner notes for nine archival compact-disc recordings by such performers as Jim Reeves, Roy Rogers, Hank Thompson, and Roy Acuff. For the boxed set The Music of Bill Monroe: From 1936 to 1994, Rumble interviewed Monroe four times.
One of his favorite stories from those interviews involves Monroe's composition "Blue Moon of Kentucky," which was recorded in 1954 by Elvis Presley on the B side of his first release, "That's Alright, Mama." Presley transformed the relaxed waltz into a driving rock 'n' roll number, and Monroe loved the interpretationnot to mention the substantial royalties it generated. "Oh, they was powerful checks," he exclaimed to Rumble. "Powerful checks!"
Rumble also has acquired an array of historical objects and documents, including costumes, scrapbooks, appointment books from Nashville recording studios, instruments, photographs, song manuscripts, rare recordings, and sheet music. These items go into the Country Music Foundation's library, the largest repository devoted to a single form of popular music, and into the foundation's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, one of the most-visited popular arts museums in the United States.
For the museum's newest exhibit, "The Treasures of Hank Williams," Rumble helped uncover some rare footage of Williams' 1952 television performance on the Kate Smith Evening Hour that had been languishing in the Boston University library archive. The exhibit is the first of its kind to pay tribute to the feisty singer-songwriter.
Other institutions, including Emory, have also benefitted from Rumble's efforts. In 1985, he helped bring Benjamin Ford's library of American humor to Emory's Special Collections Department in the Robert W. Woodruff Library. The collection includes 1940s and '50s film and radio scripts from such shows as the Grand Ole Opry and Jax All-Star Jubilee.
The interviews, artifacts, and recordings Rumble has gathered constitute a testament to the influence this musical genre has had on the lives of millions.
"I feel a certain amount of satisfaction that country musicians, the 'hillbillies' who were put down for so long, are having the last laugh," he says. "For the past forty or fifty years, we've been what's happening. We've redefined American popular music and spread it to the world. We're the music the world wants to hear."--A.O.A.
HELPING HANDS, HEALING HEARTS
Pediatric cardiologist Fred Emge leads a team to repair the tiniest hearts in Tbilisi, Georgia
The only recompense Emory Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Fred Emge receives for his globe-trotting humanitarian work can be found in the buoyant faces of his tiny patients and the grateful expressions of their parents. Witness, for example, the serenity evinced by three-year-old Kati Kuantaliani (below), who was the first child in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, to benefit from the involvement of Emge-and a number of others from Emory and Egleston Hospital for Children-in a project to improve pediatric health care in that former Soviet republic.
Emge serves as medical director of the project in Tbilisi, which is sponsored by Global Healing, a California-based non-profit organization that fosters improvements in education and patient care in medically underserved parts of the world. The organization is currently focusing its attention on the various states created by the break-up of the former Soviet Union.
Originally, Emge worked with Heart-to-Heart, a predecessor to Global Healing. Over a five-year period, that organization built a successful pediatric cardiothoracic program in a St. Petersburg, Russia, children's hospital. "The program was very successful," Emge says. "They went from doing no pediatric cases a year to doing over three hundred a year on their own with our help."
Like Heart-to-Heart, Global Healing initiates a project in a new area in a limited, highly focused way, then gradually expands its scope. "Basically, we use pediatric cardiac surgery as a spearhead to get in and then build other programs. . . . There is now a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit in St. Petersburg, an adult cardiac program, an improved pediatric hematology/oncology program, a dentistry program, and a maternal-child health program."
As a result of their work in St. Petersburg, Global Health was invited to Tbilisi by President Eduard Shevardnadze. (Shevardnadze, former foreign minister of the Soviet Union, is the grandfather of Tamuna Mosashvili Shengelia '94C, and he delivered the 1991 Commencement address.) With funding from the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Tbilisi and the Georgian Parliament and $5.2 million worth of medical equipment and supplies donated by medical centers in the United States (including Egleston and Emory hospitals), Global Healing was able to equip and supply two operating rooms, an eight-bed intensive-care unit, a pharmacy, a laboratory, examination and treatment rooms, and recovery wards for two dozen patients. The unit encompasses an entire floor of an existing, albeit deteriorating, hospital.
But infrastructure and equipment are only part of the equation. Led by Emge, a twenty-four-member team of physicians, nurses, and technicians from Egleston, the Emory School of Medicine, and medical centers in California, Minnesota, and Colorado, spent sixteen days in Tbilisi in September 1996 providing patient care, including heart surgery. They also taught Georgian doctors and nurses the latest treatments and surgical techniques in pediatric cardiology. American physicians will return periodically to supplement long-term follow-up care for patients by Georgian doctors.
A physician from Tbilisi has completed a three-month training session at the Egleston Children's Heart Center and the Emory School of Medicine, and American doctors have been accredited at Tbilisi State Medical University, where they will teach on subsequent visits.
American doctors also will interact with their counterparts in Tbilisi via on-line telemedicine consultations through interactive computer link-ups. Global Healing also will evaluate the technology needs of the Georgian health care system and acquire the necessary state-of-the-art equipment for health care facilities, as well as provide training in operation and maintenance of the equipment.
Emge says Global Healing's goal in Tbilisi is to train enough doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrators to operate a broad-based pediatric unit, beginning with a pediatric cardiac subspecialty. Eventually, their work will improve the quality of care throughout the entire hospital.
"I think that's really the key, to use this as a focal point to show that, given a little bit of help and support from outside the country, the Georgian people can really make this happen."--A.B.
JOHN A. GRIFFIN '35C
Civil Rights Activist
John A. Griffin '35C, who devoted much of his life to the quest for civil rights, died on January 25, 1997, at age eighty-four. A founding member of the Southern Regional Council, Griffin served as executive director of the Southern Education Foundation from 1965 to 1978. When the struggle for civil rights was at its most pitched, Griffin served as a conciliator with the U.S. Community Relations Service, supporting efforts to restore calm to racially charged Southern towns. At Emory, he founded the Evening at Emory program in the 1940s and served as assistant to the president, director of the Community Education Service, and associate professor of sociology. A profile of Griffin appeared in the Spring 1992 issue of Emory Magazine.
THE THRILL OF SUCCESS
Alumnus David Compton's first suspense novel is slated for the big screen
In the fall of 1993, David Compton quit his job as a marketing executive with Kraft General Foods in Memphis and moved with his family to Oxford, Mississippi, so his wife could pursue her doctoral degree in literature at the University of Mississippi. Before the move, Compton had been jotting notes and outlining a plot for a novel in his spare time, but he set the project aside when they arrived in Oxford and he took a job as the vice president of a small market-research firm.
One Sunday morning, however, a moment of inspiration helped him refocus on his writing. Compton, his wife, Mary Katherine, and their four-year-old daughter, Sarah, were attending services at Oxford's First Presbyterian Church when John Grisham, author of numerous bestsellers, including The Firm and The Pelican Brief, walked in.
"He sat down in front of us, in the flesh," Compton says. "I was thinking, Here's a guy who's fairly ordinary, but he's had some success. And that was what spurred me to finish my book."
Compton, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in political science from Emory in 1980 and spent a year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland as a Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholar, began writing in earnest. He launched into a routine of working full days at the market-research firm, spending early evenings with his family, then working on his manuscript into the wee hours.
"Once I hit my stride, I spent about twenty hours a week writing," says Compton, who also holds an MBA degree from the University of Memphis. "I finished the book in about six months."
By the fall of 1994, he had landed an agent at a top New York firm who sold the film rights for his manuscript to Touchstone Pictures for $600,000 and, a week later, sold the publishing rights for an undisclosed sum. Simon & Schuster released Compton's spy thriller, The Acolyte, in October 1996, and the movie will be produced and directed by Mike Newell, whose Four Weddings and a Funeral was a sleeper hit in 1994.
The Acolyte tells the story of Greer Whitaker, an idealistic Emory graduate in his mid-twenties who goes to work as a CIA agent after a scandal brings his burgeoning career as a Republican campaign strategist to a sudden halt. What follows is a fast-paced tale of an international conspiracy to wage economic warfare against the United States, a CIA counter-operation, and Whitaker running for his life across Europe, Mexico, and the U.S.
"It was easy for me to identify with Greer Whitaker," says Compton, who not only was active in local Republican campaigns in Memphis but also once went through the interview process to become a CIA agent.
After Simon and Schuster bought The Acolyte, Compton left his job with the market-research company and devoted his full attention to promoting the book. "I set out to write a fun read, and I wanted it to have the best chance possible to sell well, which meant that it would have to appeal to a large audience," he says. Compton spent several weeks last fall touring the Southeast, making bookstore appearances and media contacts. Reviewers have given The Acolyte high marks for its "lickety-split pacing" (Publisher's Weekly) and "a tricky plot that will keep readers engrossed to the finale" (Chattanooga Free Press).
Buoyed by his success, Compton and his family are planning a dream-come-true move to Ireland. "We're going to try it for six months or a year," he says. "It's a nice, friendly place to live, the Irish have probably the best public education system in the world, and they don't have income tax on artists' incomes, including writers."--A.O.A.
A FANTASTIC FALL
Emory athletic teams continue their winning ways
At the end of the last academic year, Emory's intercollegiate athletics program was ranked seventh best among some three hundred fifty NCAA Division III schools.
Those winning ways have continued. At the close of last semester, each Emory fall sports team-volleyball, men's and women's cross country, and men's and women's soccer-had qualified to compete in its respective national championship.
The soccer and volleyball teams combined for a school-record fifty-seven wins and a record .753 winning percentage, breaking the old records of fifty-three wins and .692 win percentage, both set last season. And Emory had four student-athletes named All-Americans-Liana Roman '97C of the volleyball team, Michael Smith '98C of the men's soccer team, and women's soccer players Amy Carter '97C and Skye Hardin '97C. (Roman was also named a GTE Academic All-American.)
Things are also looking up for spring sports. Emory's national champion women's tennis squad held the top spot in the preseason national rankings, the men's tennis team was ranked third, and the Emory golf team held down the seventh spot.
"Our children get eleven thousand hours of reading, writing, and arithmetic; fifteen thousand hours of TV from kindergarten through twelfth grade, and only forty-three hours of health education."
--Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General, speaking on campus as the 1996 Rosalynn Carter Distinguished Lecturer in Public Policy
photo by Annemarie Poyo
"In a decent society that wishes to survive as a self-sustaining democracy, there must be a high degree of civility, because that mirrors the respect that we have not only for our constitutional order but for our fellow citizens. I think the Supreme Court should teach that in the way it writes and the way it talks."
--U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony A. Kennedy, speaking last fall at the Emory School of Law
Photo by Kay Hinton
Return to Spring 1997 contents page.
Return to Emory Magazine home page.