AHHOF News

Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2020

Just over 20 years ago the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame was founded to recognize healthcare professionals who have made outstanding contributions to, or rendered exemplary service for, healthcare in the State of Alabama. Every two years the organization’s selection committee chooses 12 outstanding nominees for induction.

No other not-for-profit healthcare organization honors such a wide range of healthcare professionals. Past honorees include physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, administrators, researchers, and academic professionals. Since 1997 the Hall of Fame’s spirit and camaraderie have endeared our mission to thousands of healthcare professionals and family members.

The date for the 2020 Awards Luncheon is unscheduled at this point and  will be held on a date in 2021 that is clear of COVID-19.
The twelve 2020 honorees are as follows:

**Charles E. Butterworth, Jr., MD (deceased)

Dr. Charles Butterworth was a professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences in the School of Health Professions at UAB. He was an expert researcher of tropical anemias and folic acid metabolism, and spent years dealing with Sprue and other nutritional problems. He published “The Skeleton in the Hospital Closet” in 1974, documenting hospital malnutrition and leading to nutritional improvement for hospital patients. An authority on nutrition, he served as Chairman of UAB’s newly created Nutrition Sciences Department and served as chair from 1977-1988. Dr. Butterworth received the Goldberger Award from the American Medical Association and was honored by colleagues with the UAB Distinguished Faculty Lecture Award.

**Michael A. Callahan, Jr., MD

Dr. Michael Callahan received his medical degree from UAB and serves as a full-time professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UAB’s Callahan Eye Hospital. Prior to his academic appointment he was a prolific Birmingham eye surgeon at the Eye Foundation Hospital (1977-2018) and for many years worked with his father, Dr. Alston Callahan. He is widely known as the president of the International Retinal Research Foundation (IRRF) that to date has raised more than $23 million to support scientists and eye research around the world. Dr. Callahan serves on the boards of the Eyesight Foundation and the Callahan Eye Hospital. The recipient of many awards, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association.

**Joseph L. Fontenot, MD

Dr. Joseph Fontenot is a pioneer interventional cardiologist and one of the first in Mobile to perform heart catheterizations and treatment for cardiovascular disease. His leadership and commitment enabled his medical group in Mobile to become the premier cardio-vascular group along the Gulf Coast. Later in is career he developed problems with his personal eyesight and used his past medical training to help others with low vision. Through determined work Dr. Fontenot became a nationally Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT) and provides hope for those who have Macular Degeneration. In 2017, Dr. Fontenot received Carel C. Koch Memorial Award by American Academy of Optometry for developing outstanding relationships between optometry and other professionals.

**Henry A. Frazer, Pharm.D

During the Viet Nam War, Dr. Henry Frazer served as a Public Heath Service Pharmacy Officer and gained valuable experience in drug research and evaluations. In 1975, he received his Pharm.D degree from Mercer University’s School of Pharmacy in Atlanta and went on to work in clinical research at Hoechst-Roussel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In 1978 Dr. Frazer established the Drug Research and Analysis Corporation in Montgomery to provide clinical research services for the pharmaceutical industry. The company’s patient trials for new drugs have brought millions of dollars into Alabama communities and provided free health care services to thousands. The research has resulted in FDA’s approval of over 60 new drugs. Dr. Frazer’s record of service to the University of Mississippi and his Montgomery community is legendary. In 2005, he was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame.

** William Kendrick Hare, PhD, MD (deceased)

At native of Browns, Alabama, Dr. Kendrick Hare went on to receive a PhD in neurology from the Medical College at Northwestern, and an MD from Cornell University. Dr. Hare, a professor of pharmacology, was the first full time Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Alabama in Birmingham where he was known for recruiting outstanding full-time faculty members. His pediatric research was particularly interested in the growth and development of infants and with birth defects. He served on the faculty for 27 years. During the last seven years, he and his wife, Dr. Ruth S. Hare, served in Bangladesh designing therapy for cholera patients. Dr. William Hare was recognized by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees in 1984 as a brilliant scientist with deep concern for others.

** Howard W. Houser, PhD

Dr. Howard Houser is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Health Services Administration. His career at UAB spanned 45 years, from 1965 until his retirement in 2010. As a young administrator he was known for his work to desegregate University Hospital, Birmingham. Dr. Houser went on to train and develop numerous graduate and postgraduate students in Health Administration and is beloved by nearly 1500 students. He and Dr. Mathew McNulty developed a curriculum that has educated over 1,719 Masters and 133 PhD students. These students have effectively led community hospitals for over 55 years. Dr. Howard Houser was instrumental in laying the foundation for UAB’s Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA) Program that is now ranked #1 in the country by US News & World Report.

** Cynthia Selleck, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN

Dr. Cynthia Selleck is Emeritus Professor at the UAB School of Nursing. She received her PhD at the UAB School of Nursing in 1987 and returned to UAB in 2010 as Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships. Dr. Selleck’s career has centered on providing primary care to, and developing the workforce to meet, the needs of diverse and underserved populations. Her efforts expanded primary healthcare services to the state’s most vulnerable residents including the uninsured, homeless, mentally ill, and substance abusers. Her nationally recognized grant writing efforts have provided more than 30 million dollars for the most neglected in Alabama. Dr. Selleck was awarded the “Power of One Award” from the Nurse Practitioners of Alabama Alliance for her leadership and tenacity to improve care for families across Alabama.

**Sergio Stagno, MD

Dr. Sergio Stagno came to the United States in 1971 as a Pan American Health Organization Fellow. During his early academic career at UAB, he became an international leader on epidemiologic-oriented virus infections. He has authored or co-authored a total of 141 articles and 54 chapters in significant textbooks. In 1988, Dr. Stagno became Chair of the UAB’s Department of Pediatrics. During his tenure of 25 years the department grew from 65 physicians to over 170. As a physician scientist, Dr. Stagno was known to be a “triple threat”: an outstanding clinical physician, a renowned researcher, and an outstanding teacher. Dr. Stagno is described as a giant in pediatrics in Alabama and his impact on children’s health and on those professionals who care for children is profound.

** Zack Studstill, M.Ed, DMD

Dr. Zack Studstill practiced dentistry in Montgomery for over 45 years. In 2011 he was appointed Executive Director of the Alabama Dental Association and continues in that position today. In addition to a DMD degree from the University of Alabama, he earned an M.Ed in Counseling from Auburn University. As a licensed counselor and dentist, Dr. Studstill used his unique experience also to serve a large church’s family counseling program. Highly respected by colleagues in the dental profession, Dr. Studstill has served as Trustee for the American Dental Association and National Vice President of the American Dental Association. He received the Most Excellent Fellow Award from the Alabama Dental Association and the prestigious Fuller Award from the UAB School of Dentistry.

** William Jefferson Terry, MD (deceased)

A staunch defender of the physician patient relationship, Dr. Jeff Terry was a generational leader in healthcare whose many contributions continue to be recognized by his colleagues. Several organizations have honored Dr. Terry as a tribute to the surgical care provided to children in underserved areas, and as Alabama’s first pediatric urologist. In April 2016, MASA established the William Jeff Terry Award for leadership related to the protection of the patient-physician relationship. In November 2016, for only the second time in its history, the AMA presented a special award for his meritorious service. Dr. Terry once shared with his physician son, “If you sometimes find the practice of medicine to be a cold place, then make it your business to build a fire.”

** Celia A. Wallace

Through her direct involvement and /or affiliation with numerous business ventures, Ms. Celia A. Wallace has not only created close to 2,000 long-standing healthcare jobs in the state, but also helped establish an important healthcare complex. Along with her late husband, Dr. Gerald L. Wallace, Ms. Wallace is co-founder and current CEO of Southern Medical Health Systems, owner of Springhill Medical Center. The medical center is currently the largest solely owned hospital in the U.S. Her leadership acumen went on to help develop the SSI Group, a national leader in claims processing in Mobile, AL, with over 400 employees. Ms. Wallace is also known for many community and philanthropic activities. She was an original founder of the Alabama World War II Veterans Honor Flight and vice chairman of the Alabama State Port Authority.

** Richard C. Whitaker

Mr. Richard Whitaker (Dickey) has made many significant contributions to healthcare during his 46-year career as the Director of Governmental Relations and Public Affairs for MASA. From prescription drug monitoring and nurse practitioner legislation, to rural medical initiatives, virtually all beneficial health related legislation in Alabama passed with Richard Whitaker’s legislative guidance. His most remarkable achievement was during the early 1980’s when runaway jury verdicts threatened the entire tort system. Mr. Whitaker put together a coalition that solved the crisis so that insurance companies would again cover malpractice insurance for physicians and hospitals. One Hall of Fame physician member commented that Mr. Whitaker never takes center stage for the passage of important legislation, but while others are center stage taking bows, a glance to the wings reveals his presence.


In Memory Of…

Marsha Ann Lauder Debakey

South Alabama community leader, nurse and philanthropist, Marsha Ann Lauder DeBakey was born December 25,1944 and died December 10, 2019. Mrs. DeBakey served as President of the Ernest G. DeBakey Charitable Foundation, established to benefit medical research and health education. The Foundation is a leading supporter of the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame.

The DeBakey Charitable Foundation was named in honor of Mrs. DeBakey’s husband, Dr. Ernest G. DeBakey, whose general surgery practice in South Alabama spanned over six decades and 40,000 major surgical procedures. Dr. DeBakey is a 2001 AHHOF Honoree.

James Irving (Jim) Harrison, Jr.

Jim Harrison was born July 11, 1932 and died February 24, 2020. A retired pharmacist, business leader and philanthropist, he was founder and CEO of Harco, Inc. Drug Stores an extensive regional company based in Tuscaloosa with 150 full-service pharmacies in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. Mr. Harrison was a 1999 Honoree of the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame and a long time supporter of the organization.


We welcome the following 2019 Appointments to the AHHOF Board of Directors:

Jorge Alsip, M.D.
Dr. Jorge Alsip is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and later in his career earned an MBA degree. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine and in 2011 was appointed the first chief medical information officer (CMIO) for UAB Health System. Dr. Alsip has also served as president of the Medical Association of Alabama, Chairman of he Alabama Department of Public Health, and chairman of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners.

Gerhard A.W. Boehm, M.D., FACS
Dr. Gerhard Boehm’s distinguished career spans 47 years as a general surgeon, including the performance of more than 7,000 breast surgeries primarily for cancer patients. Active in many professional areas, he served as president of the Alabama Medical Alumni Association, and in 2017 received its Distinguished Alumnus Award. He also served as Alabama chapter president of the American College of Surgeons and is a 2018 inductee into the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame.

Joel Patton Hearn, D.M.D.
Dr. Joel Hearn is a 1972 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Dentistry. Now retired, he practiced dentistry in Florence, Alabama for over 38 years. Dr. Hearn served as president of the Alabama Association of Endodontists; president of the Alabama Dental Alumni Association, President of the Alabama Dental Association; and was recipient of the UAB School of Dentistry Distinguished Alumnus Award; and past UASOD Alumni Association Fuller Award recipient.