Patients, family, friends mourn loss of Vidalia’s ‘No. 1’ physician, Dr. Polk

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2000

VIDALIA – Friends remember longtime Vidalia doctor and Concordia Parish Coroner William Thomas Polk as a man who served his community well and was well-loved in return.

Polk, 77, died of a heart attack Monday night at Natchez Regional Medical Center. His funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Vidalia Presbyterian Church. Visitation will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. today at Laird’s Funeral Home.

&uot;He was the kindest, most patient person I&160;knew — quiet, not pushy or overbearing,&uot; said longtime friend and Concordia Parish Clerk of Court Clyde Ray Webber, who will conduct funeral services. &uot;I had all the respect in the world for him.&uot;

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Jean Walsworth, former manager of the Vidalia Chamber of Commerce, described Polk as a caring, compassionate person.

&uot;He did so many things for people, but he didn’t want people to know, because he was so humble, Walsworth said.

&uot;He was an icon in our community. He was all the things we hope people will say about us when we leave this world.&uot;

For many years, Polk was Vidalia’s only doctor, and he cared for patients in the same Carter Street office from 1959 — the year he moved to Vidalia with his wife, the former Lou McWhorter — until he retired two years ago.

&uot;Everyone looked up to him,&uot; said longtime friend Gene Thompson. &uot;He was No. 1 to us. He was always a Vidalia man.

&uot;He was the doctor in our area. He worked on my kids late at night and early in the morning — he did that for everyone. He was just a fine fellow.&uot;

That sentiment was echoed by those who worked at Polk’s clinic for many years.

&uot;He was very, very dedicated to his patients. He loved them,&uot;&160;said Sybil Richmond, who worked at Polk’s clinic for 36 years. &uot;He would call them at night to check on them, and it meant so much to all of them.&uot;

&uot;He was so important to this city, and he was dearly loved by the people here,&uot;&160;said Mary Pipe, an employee at the clinic for 21 years.

Except for one term, Polk also served as the parish’s coroner from the late 1960s through the late 1990s. And during that time, he gained the respect of his fellow public officials.

&uot;Anyone who had the opportunity to meet him was blessed,&uot; said Sheriff Randy Maxwell. &uot;He was a very unique individual, and he’ll always be remembered for his kindness and his professionalism.&uot;

Polk was a member of the Louisiana State Coroners Association for 31 years and was a member of the Homochitto Valley Medical Association and the Mississippi State Medical Association. He was a graduate of the Louisiana State University Medical School and also attended medical school at the University of Mississippi.