At one point in his life, Dr. Charles Rey wanted to be a Marine. But the Navy had a different plan for him.
Catching wind of his exceptional grades and intelligence, the Navy began recruiting Rey while he was still a student at Decatur High School. Promising to pay for his education in exchange for his service upon graduation from medical school, the Navy talked Rey into studying medicine, which quickly became his passion, said his son, Chuck Rey of Marietta.
“He became a doctor as a result of the Navy recognizing his high intelligence,” Chuck Rey said. “They suggested he look into medicine, so he tried it. And it turned out it was the thing he wanted to do.”
Both parties kept up their end of the bargain. Rey graduated from Emory University in 1945, then studied medicine at the University of Georgia, from which he graduated in 1949. After a short internship at Macon Hospital, he joined the Navy in 1950 and served as a medical officer during the Korean War.
Once discharged, Rey completed his residency in general surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital before making his move to Cobb General Hospital. He practiced surgery at Cobb General for 35 years, during which he served as president of the medical staff and chief of surgery.
He did everything he could for his patients, Chuck Rey said. “He was extremely diligent and tireless in doing whatever he could to save someone. He never wanted to say that a person couldn’t make it.”
Dr. Charles Joseph Rey Jr. of Marietta died Saturday at Kennestone Hospital from injuries he suffered during an automobile accident on Feb. 18. He was 88.
His funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Davis-Struempf Chapel in Austell. Interment will immediately follow at Kennesaw Memorial Park Cemetery. Davis-Struempf Funeral Home & Crematory is in charge of arrangements.
As a surgeon, Rey’s work ethic was top-notch and his diligence was unmatched, said those who knew him. He used kindness as a key instrument in his work, always exuding compassion, said longtime friend Dr. C. David Markle, an internist at Wellstar Cobb Hospital.
“He was an excellent surgeon,” Markle said. “He’d show sympathy and compassion so (patients) would feel at ease. He was always my surgeon of choice.”
Chuck Rey said his father always strove to go above and beyond the normal standards of surgery. “He would always do anything he could and stay any number of hours. … He literally saved thousands of lives during his career.”
In addition to his son, Rey is survived by his wife, Margaret Brock Rey of Marietta; another son, Steven Rey of Marietta; a daughter, Suzanne Wright of Marietta; two sisters, Frances Forrester of Gainesville and Martha Christopher of Roswell; and three grandchildren.