Dr. Powell Graham Fox, Jr., passed away at his home on February 22, 2014. Dr. Fox once said he had never considered being anything other than a physician. He began an inspiring life-long devotion to health care as a young boy making Sunday rounds in the halls of the former Mary Elizabeth Hospital, the predecessor to Duke Raleigh Hospital. By the time he was 13 he was observing his father and others perform surgery. He became an institution in the life of Duke Raleigh and made an indelible mark on both the history and future of the hospital and in the health care of the greater Raleigh community.
A Raleigh native, Dr. Fox (known as P.G. by his many friends) was born on March 11, 1928 to his parents Dr. Powell Graham Fox and Shirley Kingsbury Fox. He was in the first graduation class at Ravenscroft School in 1940 which at the time was 7 grades on Tucker Street in St. Saviours Church. In 2003 he received the Distinguished Alumni award from Ravenscroft which had then moved to a larger campus and grown to 12 grades. He attended Needham Broughton High School and graduated in 1944. In 1948 he received his Bachelor of Science with honors from The Citadel where he was a Cadet Captain and Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.
Realizing his childhood interest in medicine, Dr. Fox began his career at the Medical College of Virginia where he received his medical degree in 1952. He completed his internship at Brooke Army Hospital in 1953 and served as a First Lieutenant in the Medical Corp of the U.S. Army. At age 25, he was commander of a 50 bed hospital medical center in Hohenfels, Germany for 2 years. He returned to the United States and completed a 4 year urological residency at the Medical College of Virginia where he participated in the first kidney transplant in the Southeast. Upon returning to Raleigh in 1960, he and his father founded Central Carolina Urological and successfully practiced medicine with a team of exceptional partners and staff for more than 30 years.
As Mary Elizabeth Hospital continued to grow to require a larger facility and new location, Dr. Fox took a primary role in selecting the new, present location of the hospital and led the way in constructing what is now Duke Raleigh Hospital. In 1977 he organized the Advisory Board for the new facility where he was the founding Chairman of the Board and served on the Board for well over two decades. He saw the growth of the medical staff increase from 25 to over 500 physicians. Throughout his tenure on the Duke Raleigh Advisory Board, he functioned as the primary liaison and advocate for the hospital medical staff. His Board leadership was critical in the development of the first diagnostic catheterization lab at Duke Raleigh and in the building of the multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art Duke Cancer Center. With his participation on the Advisory Board, the Board created a unique philanthropic program aptly named the P.G. Fox Society in his honor. As then CEO, Jim Knight, said at the dedication of this philanthropic program: "Raleigh Community has made great progress during the last few years and much of the credit belongs to Dr. Fox. Not only has he played a leading role in articulating an impressive plan to develop the hospital, he has been successful in getting physicians, administrators and Board members to take essential steps to implement the plan. In all of his work he displays an unwavering commitment to provide the best for patients. How fortunate we are to have Dr. Fox as a leader of Raleigh Community." Dr Fox retired from his urological practice and became Chief Medical Officer of the hospital in 1988, a position he held until his retirement in 2008.
Dr. Fox's commitment to health care and service extends far beyond the walls of Duke Raleigh. He was the founder of Raleigh Urological Associates and clinical Professor of Urology at the University of North Carolina. He held positions as Chair of the Urology Department at Rex Hospital and Wake Medical Center. He was also President of The Carolinas Urological Association, Raleigh Academy of Medicine and Urological Section of the North Carolina Medical Society. He was Chair of the Bylaws Committee at the North Carolina Medical Society and a Board Member of the Southeastern Urological Association. He was a Diplomat of the American Board of Urology and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He was a past member of the Physicians Board of Governors of the Hospital Corporation of America.
Dr. Fox was not only a leader in the medical community, but had numerous leadership positions in community organizations demonstrating his strong service-oriented nature. He volunteered for Special Olympics, the Walk for Hope, served as Physician Chair of the United Way, had been a board member for the Red Cross and served on the boards of State Bank of Raleigh, Branch Banking and Trust and had been Chair of the United Carolina Bank local board. He had been president of Carolina Country Club, Sphinx Club, and Terpsichorean Club. He was honored with the 2004 North Carolina Hospital Association Trustee Service Award and the 2006 Triangle Business Journal Heath Care Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2009 he was honored as an inductee in the Raleigh Hall of Fame and in 2013 he received the Midtown Legends Award.
He was a member of Christ Episcopal Church and a 2003 and 2004 Delegate to the Diocesan Convention. He has served on the Vestry and as a Senior Warden. He served as Board Chair of St. Saviour's Center, an independent outreach organization established by Christ Episcopal Church in conjunction with the Raleigh Housing Authority. He established the first educational medical outreach program and nurse program for senior residents in Glenwood Towers. This was so rewarding for him as these programs were conducted in the chapel at St. Saviour's, the home of his elementary studies at Ravenscroft.
His daughter, Sarah Wesley, wrote in an article about "Doctor Fox": "You cannot forget his rabid passion for sports, particularly North Carolina State anything and golf everything. For almost 25 years he served on a volunteer basis as team physician for NC State University with never a bill for any of his professional help. He sat on the bench during these games, occasionally getting into disagreements with the referees like one who threatened on national TV to eject him from the Oklahoma game. Dad still says the ref apologized to him for the incident and I'm sure we will never know the truth. When David Thompson had his terrible fall during the NCAA playoffs, and the entire Reynolds Coliseum as well as millions of televised viewers thought Thompson might have died, Dad was there on the basketball court, calmly tending to Thompson. As I watched the game on national TV, I again saw in Dad the same committed expression I saw those Sundays as my brother and I made rounds with him. Despite the millions of viewers and the thousands of fans in the stadium, the only person that he heard or saw or that mattered was David Thompson. That moment which was pictured in Sports Illustrated was framed by Thompson and given to my dad in thanks for his care.
Two other sports trivia about my father. First, when he was 67 he actually shot his age in a golf tournament. When he was 70 he and his grandson made a hole-in-one on the same hole in the same week. That was one of four hole-in-ones made by my father."
One constant impression is that Dr. Fox was always young at heart. Whether it was cards, basketball, golf, fishing, politics, or just visiting someone, he simply didn't know what it meant to act any way other than the way he felt. As a child, the escapades of his childhood friends, The "Byrd Street Boys" are still notorious. As a parent he taught his son and daughter about themselves, others and how to have fun; as a grandfather he secretly placed watermelons in his grandchildren's garden and then convinced them that they had grown overnight, built gingerbread houses with them every Christmas and never turned down a request for a movie, Charades, or Monopoly. His grandchildren still talk about the time their grandfather showed them how to tie fishing lines to plastic snakes so they could hide in the bushes and frighten the unsuspecting women attending a meeting at their house. His family had so much fun with him.
As stated in the final paragraph of Dr. Fox's induction in the Raleigh Hall Fame: "It is rare that a community can grow with the guidance of such a committed, talented, and esteemed individual. With a life dedicated to medicine and service, Dr. Fox has been a foundation in the progress of Duke Raleigh Hospital and the City of Raleigh. Dr. Fox's invaluable knowledge, amazing compassion and familiar warm smile will continue to permeate and illuminate the walls of Duke Raleigh Hospital -- long known as a place of caring and compassion, nurtured for more than fifty years a beloved man, Dr. P. G. Fox, Jr."
Throughout his professional career, Dr. Fox valued the love and support of his family. He is survived by his wife, Ann Herring Fox, daughter Sarah Wesley Fox and her husband Craig Wheaton, stepdaughter Harriet Stephenson, stepson Lee Stephenson and his wife Eliza, his sister, Shirley Phillips and her husband John, his two grandchildren, Ford Wheaton and Sarah Wesley Wheaton, and two step-grandchildren, Mallory Stephenson and Russell Stephenson. He was preceded in death by his son Powell Graham Fox III.
The family will receive friends on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 from 4:00-6:00 pm at 1825 Saint Mary's St.
The memorial service will be held on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm at Christ Episcopal Church, with the graveside service immediately following at Oakwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the P.G. Fox Society, c/o Duke Raleigh, 3400 Wake Forest Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609.
Arrangements by Brown-Wynne, 300 Saint Mary's St., Raleigh, NC.