Dr. Clyde O. Lord Sr., anesthesiologist, dies at 85

Leading Atlanta physician turned down career shot in basketball for medicine

Dr. Clyde Ormond Lord Sr., one of the city’s early Black anesthesiologists and an athletic hall of famer for the University of Vermont, decided to forego a tryout with the Boston Celtics to focus on a career in medicine, his family said.

Lord, who spent years practicing at Southwest Atlanta Hospital, which closed in 2009, was co-owner of a successful anesthesiology practice. He was also a former president of the Atlanta Medical Association, which is a leading voice for African-American physicians, equality and justice in medicine and the elimination of health disparities.

Lord died Jan. 3. He was 85.

Dr. Leroy Wilson, a retired internist, first met Lord in 1974 when both worked at Southwest.

“We were all trying to bring quality care to the southwest Atlanta community,” said Wilson. “Southwest is a part of the city that has always been lacking in the quality of health care that other areas of the city had. “

He said Lord encouraged other Black physicians and specialists to consider Southwest Hospital at a time when Black physicians were not necessarily welcomed on the staff of predominately white hospitals.

“We had a neurosurgeon there at one time. We had a thoracic surgeon there. All these people came after Dr. Lord,” Wilson said.

Working through groups like the Atlanta Medical Association, Lord ”was instrumental in making sure they came on board. He helped make sure these people looked at Southwest Atlanta Hospital, which was a small community hospital.”

Lord, born in 1937, grew up in Brooklyn, the youngest son of the late F. Levi Lord and Mildred Thornhill Lord, both immigrants from Barbados.

Levi Lord was active in Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and helped start one of the first Black credit unions in New York. His mother was a homemaker, said Barbara Lord, his wife of nearly 64 years.

Lloyd earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Vermont and is the only Vermont athlete selected All Yankee Conference first team for three varsity years (1956-59). He scored 1,308 points in 67 games, a school record that held until 1970. In 1974, he was inducted into the University of Vermont’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Rather than set his sights on professional basketball, Lord enrolled in Meharry Medical College in Nashville, where he received several honors including one for excellence in the field of cardiology, according to the family obituary.

In 1962 he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and graduated from Meharry the following year.

He completed his internship before starting his Army military service in Okinawa, Japan, according to his obituary. He remained in Okinawa practicing medicine for two years with his wife, Barbara, his daughter, Sharon, and his son, Clyde, Jr.

In 1970, Dr. Lord moved to Atlanta with his growing family, which later included David and Winston. He was board certified in both anesthesiology and pain management.

Lord was “kind and caring,” said Barbara Lord of Atlanta. “At times, if a patient wanted him to pray with them before a procedure, he would.”

When he wasn’t practicing medicine, Lord spent time helping coach his sons’ Little League team. At least two of his players went on to practice medicine and credited Lord with inspiring them, Barbara Lord said.

He made sure to talk to the boys about the importance of being good and honest people,

Barbara Lord recalls one day an 18-wheeler pulled up in the front of their home. A young man jumped out of the truck and told her that he wanted “Dr. Lord to see who I am. He said he was the only person who talked to him about what it meant to be a good person.”

“He said, ‘This is my truck and I wanted Dr. Lord to see that I now I have my own business.’ He had set a good example for him and our sons,” she said.

In addition to his practice, Lord also opened a pain clinic, one of the first owned and operated by African Americans in Atlanta.

“A lot of times back then patients couldn’t pay but they still took good care of them,” Barbara Lord said. “He was very much aware of where Black medicine needed to be and he was concerned about the Black community’s health very much. If people didn’t have insurance, he would see them anyway.”

David Lord remembers his dad as being very active in his faith. At Bethel United Methodist Church he was active in raising money and the men’s group.

“His whole thing was just work hard and belief in God,” David Lord said.

Lord retired two different times, said his daughter-in-law Sandra Lord. Even then, she said, until recently he often went to the Quality Living Services center to perform blood pressure checks for older people.

His interests included Black art, jazz, travel, and Atlanta sports.

“He was the community’s doctor,” said son Clyde Lord Jr. He said people would stop his father as he ran errands to ask medical questions and upcoming procedures. “Everybody knew him in southwest Atlanta.”

Survivors include sons Clyde Lord Jr. (Sandra Lord); David Lord (Ty Lord); and Winston Lord; and four grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his daughter, Sharon Lord; siblings Barbara Carey, Phyllis Fisher, Elsie Gill and Eustace Lord.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Jan. 13 at Bethel United Methodist Church, 1215 New Hope Rd. S.W., Atlanta.