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Dr. Jane Carswell: Family Physician, Humanitarian, Friend
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  This   biography   of   a   family   doctor   in   Lenoir,   North   Carolina,   is   a   story   that   begs   to be   read   and   studied   as   an   example   for   all   to   follow.   When   Kenneth   Roberts approached   me   about   writing   a   biography   of   his   late   wife,   Dr.   Jane   Carswell,   my first question was, “Would she be okay with this?”      “Probably not,” he replied. “But it’s too important not to share.”                He   was   right.   From   all   my   discussions   with   her   friends   and   colleagues,   she was   an   extremely   private   person   who   preferred   the   spotlight   to   focus   on   others while   she   worked   behind   the   scenes.   She   was   the   first   to   give   others   the   credit, and   yet   her   own   story   is   too   remarkable   not   to   bring   out   into   the   open   as   an inspiration.   She   thought   out   solutions   to   society’s   limitations.   She   stepped   up when she saw a need and she lived her faith as she practiced her medicine.                Much   of   this   book   was   written   by   Jane   herself.   Not   only   was   she   a   hard working   physician,   a   dedicated   humanitarian   and   a   friend   to   many,   she   was   a prolific   writer   who   set   her   thinking   in   words   that   have   lived   well   beyond   her   life. She   was   also   an   accomplished   photographer.   Included   at   the   beginning   of   each chapter are pictures showcasing Jane’s gift in nature photography.             Her   story   reveals   a   life   of   integrity   and   faith   in   action   that   can   best   be described   with   verbs   rather   than   adjectives.   She   organized   the   first   shelter   for abused   women   in   the   state   that   became   a   model   for   many   others   that   followed. She   was   instrumental   in   developing   the   first   Hospice   in   western   North   Carolina and   the   first   Hospice   structure   in   the   state   that   was   independent   of   a   hospital facility.   In   a   time   when   few   women   received   medical   degrees,   she   courageously persevered   against   the   odds   to   reach   her   dream   of   becoming   a   physician.   Born in   1932,   she   grew   up   as   a   daughter   of   a   Presbyterian   minister   in   the   Raeford, North   Carolina   area,   attended   Flora   Macdonald   College   and   the   University   of North    Carolina    before    graduating    from    the    Medical    College    of    Virginia    in Richmond.   Nationally   recognized   as   the   1984   American   Family   Physician   of   the Year,   she   merged   the   medical   with   the   practical.   She   was   also   recognized   as   the 1980   L.   A.   Dysart   Citizen   of   the   Year   in   Lenoir,   by   the   Rotary   Club   with   a scholarship   in   her   name,   and   with   honors   from   the   University   of   North   Carolina, St.   Andrews   University,   and   Duke   University.   Her   cradle-to-the-grave   practice extended   beyond   delivering   babies   and   providing   care   for   family   members   of   all ages.   She   responded   to   society’s   ills   by   advocating   for   her   abused   patients   and those   suffering   from   addiction.   She   fought   against   racial   injustices.   She   pushed for   a   facility   offering   affordable   medical   treatment.   Her   fingerprints   can   be   found in   the   background   of   numerous   humanitarian   organizations   in   Lenoir,   although she   preferred   to   remain   out   of   the   spotlight.   Whether   she   was   photographing wildflowers    on    a    hike    through    the    Appalachians,    diagnosing    an    illness,    or delivering   a   baby,   Dr.   Jane   Carswell   was   well   respected   by   all   those   fortunate enough   to   come   upon   her.   Her   late   in   life   love   story   and   marriage   is   a   delightful part of the book that takes the reader through to her death in 2015.
Dr. Jane Carswell
Gretchen Griffith with Kenneth Roberts
This photograph by Spencer Ainsley of Dr. Carswell at her desk appeared in the October 1984 Lenoir News-Topic. The desk once belonged to her father, Rev. Arthur Dula Carswell and has remained in the family at her nephew’s home.
Not only was Jane Carswell known as a beloved physician, she was also widely known for her beautiful rose gardens. She took the cover photograph of a rose in her front yard.
The photograph of the Veteran’s Rose on the back cover was also taken by Dr. Carswell. It also graces the dividing pages between sections of the book, and the postage stamp photo from chapter one. Each chapter begins with one of her nature photographs.
Chapter 1 Heritage “The best thing parents can give is a Christian Heritage and a good education.” Jane Carswell in the Sandhills Citizen December 12, 1984
Chapter 2 Childhood “Mother and Daddy set an example for us to ever be mindful of the needs of others.” Jane Carswell, in a 2010 letter to nephew, David
Chapter 3 College “Those first two years at Flora Macdonald were a very steadying influence on my first experience away from home.” Jane Carswell in the Sandhills Citizen  December 12, 1984
Chapter 4 University “I was raised in a family and a church that made me want to go into a helping profession.” Jane Carswell in the Raleigh News and Observer December 13, 1984
Chapter 5 Kentucky “Dear God, Thank you for giving us all skills and talents.  Help us to use them in good ways so that other people will come to know Jesus and His love and how He wants us to live. Amen.” From “God Given Talents” Jane Carswell, 2001
Chapter 6 The Practice “Family medicine keeps one humble. Often you as a physician can do very little to help the patients, but they still give you their trust and share their joys and sorrows with you.” Jane Carswell, Family Practice Hi-Lights, Medical College of Virginia Student Family Practice Association Winter, 1984
Chapter 7 Interracial Relations “Protecting the dignity of people is what that was all about.” Jane Carswell, The Modesto (California) Bee October 28, 1984
Chapter 8 Shelter Home “He really hit her hard, right in front of me. But she wouldn’t press charges. She said she had to go home and live with him, that she didn’t have any place else to go.” Jane Carswell, Charlotte Observer December 9, 1984
Chapter 9 Caldwell House “You can’t cut patients off after office hours in a small town. They are people you go to church with, people you see in the grocery store. You have to be a part of the community.” Jane Carswell, The Sandhill Citizen and News Outlook December 12, 1984
Chapter 10 Caldwell Friends “Family physicians have a responsibility in the community. Because we are on the front line, the problems often come first into our offices.” Jane Carswell, speaking to the Delegates Assembly American Association of Physicians, AAFP Reporter, October 1984
Chapter 11 International Missions “The Guatemalan mothers with sick children showed the same anxiety and love that I see in parents in my office in North Carolina.” Jane Carswell, “Reflections on Guatemala Trip”                                            February 4, 2002
Chapter 12 Helping Hands “The family physician is in a unique position to work for better health care for the community on a broad scale.” Jane Carswell, Family Practice Hi-Lights, Medical College of Virginia Student Family Practice Association Winter, 1984
Chapter 13 Cradle-to-Grave “I would love to give you back your good health but cannot. So I will give you my love, which you have always had. May you feel God’s arms around you and know the peace that only He can give.” Jane Carswell in a letter to a friend
Chapter 14 Friendship “With some folks I like to roam. With some I like to stay home.” From an undated poem by Jane Carswell Roberts
Chapter 15 Joy “To share my life is my request With you because I love you best.” From an undated poem by Jane Carswell Roberts
Chapter 16 Retirement “We are both feeling fine and are active in a variety of things which are so diverse that sometimes we feel like several different people.” Jane Carswell Roberts in her 2006 Christmas letter to friends
Gretchen Griffith with Kenneth Roberts at the book launch.
Author Gretchen Griffith with Rufus from the Happy Hands Puppeteers, Chapter 7.
Click the arrow above to learn more about Dr. Jane Carswell  
Judges’ Collective Comments North Carolina Society of Historians 2018 Book Award Dr. Jane Carswell: Family Physician, Humanitarian, Friend This was such an easy book to read, with a great anticipation to be had with the turning of each page. We were privy to a well-researched text, some exceptional vintage black and white photographs, and beautiful color photographs that truly enhanced Dr. Carswell’s story. In this book, Griffith captured the ‘spirit’ of Jane Carswell, every aspect of it. We learned that not only was Dr. Carswell a determined young woman in her quest to serve the medical needs of mankind, but even in her youth was a loving, thoughtful, kind and generous person who put the needs of others before her own needs. She dedicated herself to a life of serving, a life fashioned like that of Jesus Christ…the ultimate servant. Dr. Carswell took care of people from “the cradle to the grave,” and that is what the book does, with emphasis on her medical career, interests, travels and family life. Early in her story the reader grows to love “Jane,” and realize this awesome lady’s contributions to her community and society. Those who knew her in life surely will miss her in death. Even though we did not know her in person, we shed tears when she died on 25 March, 2015, when her overworked heart stopped…although her memory didn’t.