Georgetown doctor helps serve community

After more than 70 years of living in Georgetown, retired physician and community leader Douglas Benold has watched the community grow.

In 1934, Benold moved to Georgetown with his family when he was 10 years old and began sixth grade at Annie Purl Elementary School.

After graduating from Georgetown High School in 1940, he went on to Southwestern University. In 1943 he was called to active duty in the Army and headed to California for basic training, but his acceptance to medical school allowed him to attend medical school at Baylor Medical School in Houston as a member of the Army.

"At that time, during the war, about 90 percent of all our medical students were either in the Army or the Navy," Benold said. "By the time I got out of medical school, the war was over."

His internship and residency programs took him first to Indianapolis and then to El Paso.

Upon completion of his education, he returned to Georgetown with his wife, Nell, to set up a private practice in 1950.

"I started out in the back of the city drugstore down on the Square," he said. "I still have the sign here in the closet that I had out on the sidewalk: Douglas M. Benold, M.D. Physician and Surgeon."

Benold worked in that office for two years until 1952 when he was called into active duty to serve in the Korean War as an Air Force surgeon. He reopened his practice after he returned from the war. Benold later became partners with Dr. Hal Gaddy.

"We were helping each other and assisting in surgery," he said. "We finally decided, 'Well gosh, we're working together and we are so busy, why don't we form a partnership?'"

In 1957 Benold became a co-owner with Gaddy of the privately owned hospital, located next to Williams Elementary School on University Avenue, and in 1958 the pair built a clinic nearby where Georgetown Community Clinic used to be located.

"Of course we were just busy constantly," Benold said.

The partners later decided to form a licensed vocational nursing school in the hospital to help combat a shortage of nurses in Georgetown and graduated the first class in 1961. The school had a graduating class every year until 1978 when a new hospital was built on Scenic Drive.

Benold's passion for education led him to serve on the Georgetown ISD board of trustees for more than 14 years where he played a role in integrating the school district. In 1996, the district opened Benold Middle School named in his honor.

Later in his career, Benold and several others helped form the Georgetown Community Clinic that offered health care to uninsured individuals. The clinic eventually became Lone Star Circle of Care.

Benold officially retired from medicine in 2006 but is still actively involved with the First United Methodist Church in Georgetown and serves on the board of directors for The Wesleyan and as a trustee at Southwestern University.