September 10 – ALBANY – As you gaze at the smiling, excited, young – very young – faces that emerge from the September-October 1982 edition of the ‘Phoebe Speaks’ publication, you can’t help but notice the black hair and unlined faces of two young professionals who had just been added to the hospital’s medical staff.
These faces, belonging to Drs. Price Corr and Joe Stubbs, may now bear the marks that 40 years in a demanding profession, life and death, bring, but a conversation with Albany Surgical and Albany Internal Medicine, respectively, reveals that decades in the profession they have chosen have not diminished the one thing that brought them to the call in the first place: their passion to serve others.
That they spent those 40 years in the Southwest Georgia community that welcomed them into their calling speaks to the ties that bind them to the land and, ultimately, to each other.
“I wasn’t in Boy Scouts very long, but I learned these 12 characteristics that Scouting demands, things like kindness, dependability, loyalty,” said Corr, a still-practicing surgeon and one of the tenets of Albany Surgical PC. during a recent conversation. “Joe is all of that. There’s no malice in this man.”
Stubbs, an internist and one of the principles of Albany’s internal medicine group, is equally enthusiastic in his praise for his friend and fellow practitioner of the healing arts.
“Patients ask me, ‘Who do I see to get a colonoscopy? ‘” Stubbs said. “I tell them, ‘Well, Dr. Corr is doing mine. Why not, he knows all the ins and outs of his job? He’s not just there to perform, he cares about his patients. He is a great surgeon with a great surgical mind.
And although doctors have taken very different paths in their medical careers, each has earned the respect of the medical community and the thousands and thousands of patients they have served over the years. Even as they get a glimpse of reality and what retirement might look like, each is determined to continue doing what they’ve done in distinguished careers that rival those built by the few peers they have. who remain in the area.
Corr was born and raised in Albany, and he remembers growing up “playing in the alleys of the avenues” until 10 p.m. when parents expected their children to be there for the evening. He planned to study pre-med at the University of Georgia, but when he wasn’t accepted into the university’s medical school, he changed his course to veterinary medicine. A girlfriend at the time convinced him to reapply.
“I actually loved vet school, and my attitude back then was ‘if they don’t want me, I don’t want them,'” Corr said. decided that I didn’t want to reach a point in life where I would say, “I should have gone to medical school. I reapplied and entered. I can tell you, though, that driving to Athens to tell Dean Crawford that I was retiring from vet school was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Stubbs’ initial career path had nothing to do with medicine. He was a star athlete in high school and went to William and Mary on a football scholarship.
“I went to college thinking I would be a math teacher and a football coach,” he said.
But it was the impact Stubbs’ father had on the Macon community that led him to Emory University and the medical profession.
“My dad was a Methodist minister when he decided to go to Emory to study medicine,” Stubbs said. “At the time, he had five children and two parents who lived in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home. He became an OB-GYN specialist, and I couldn’t help but see the impact he had on our community. It also didn’t hurt that my girlfriend – who would become my wife – was dating Emory at the time.”
After completing his residency at the University of Washington in Seattle, Stubbs came to southern Georgia, joining a group in Albany who requested a two-year commitment.
“I agreed and planned to do my two years and then move on,” Stubbs said. “It was 1982. August 2 was my 40th year here.”
Corr, on the other hand, thought about returning to southern Georgia, though not necessarily Albany. The economy in 1982 was very similar to today, and the newly trained surgeon was told, ominously, that there was not a great need for surgeons at the time.
“I wanted to find a band to go with, but it just didn’t work out,” he said. “I took an $80,000 note – at 20% – I had a 15-month-old child and my wife was six months pregnant. We had planned to buy a house for $75,000, but we ended up by getting one for $100,000 but with a 12% mortgage.”
On pretty much 24-hour call, Corr’s early medicine didn’t particularly get off to a good start.
“I set up my practice,” he said, “and it turns out the girl in my office was stealing from me blind.”
Corr found a willing partner – and dear friend – in Chris Smith, and the two planned to partner with another established surgeon, but money and trust issues marred the joint venture. Corr and Smith, however, remained close friends and ended up working together for more than four decades before Smith’s death last year.
“Chris and I were synonymous,” Corr said. “We were in each other’s marriages, and I rushed him into our fraternity at UGA. When we started sharing calls together, we had a sort of shared sixth sense. We always called each other others.”
With their reputations clearly established, Stubbs and Corr both say that while many people in their professions are looking forward to retirement, neither is in a particular rush to hang up their stethoscope.
“Maybe those who call us ‘dinosaurs’ are right,” Corr said. “But I think I speak for both of us when I say the passion we felt when we went to medical school is still alive and well. No, I can’t stay up all night and function the next day. like before. And I know when I have to entrust something to our young partners.
“But I don’t think Joe or I chose this job as a favorite job. We both saw it as a calling.”
As for Stubbs, he had one of the greatest pleasures of his career watching his daughter, Lauren, join the team at Albany Internal Medicine.
“Price was talking about dinosaurs earlier; maybe some people see us that way,” he said. “But one of the things I was told a long time ago is to be honest and tell yourself when it’s time to go. I think I can do it. But for now, I don’t feel like I’ve reached that moment.”
Thus, 80 years of knowledge and expertise remain at the disposal of Southwest Georgians.