Dr. Grattan C. “Chip” Woodson Jr., 89: ‘He was his own man’

Dr. Chip Woodson wasn’t your typical medical doctor. He didn’t lecture about exercise, and he enjoyed smoking unfiltered cigarettes for years — although he would tell patients the habit wasn’t a particularly good idea.

Woodson also had an office in Sandy Springs in the 1950s, when the only way you could get there from Atlanta, according to his kids, was a dirt road, not I-285.

“He was a visionary,” said his son Ed Marks. “He didn’t want to go to the doctor’s building at Piedmont Hospital and be like all of the other doctors. He really was his own man.”

Woodson operated a practice in Sandy Springs until 1990, when he decided to combine his medical knowledge with his computer programing skills.

“He bought the first computer a consumer could buy and take home,” said his daughter Maryclare Woodson Lica of San Francisco. “But then he found it limiting, so he rewrote that first software program that came with that computer.”

Chip Woodson also had a full darkroom in his basement, where he developed his own prints for years.

“He knew at 12 years old he was going to be a doctor,” Marks said. “But he could have been anything he wanted to be.”

Grattan Crowe Woodson Jr., known as Chip by all, died Friday after a brief illness. The Atlanta resident was 89.

A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Lenbrook, the Buckhead retirement community where he lived with his wife of 54 years, Harriet Allen Woodson. SouthCare Cremation & Funeral Society was in charge of cremation arrangements.

Woodson grew up in Middlesboro, Ky., and left home in 1942 to enroll at Emory University. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, he attended Emory’s medical school and graduated in 1948.

Marks said his father started his Sandy Springs medical practice in 1954, not long after he returned from serving in the U.S. Navy.

“Knowing him, I can only imagine that he decided on Sandy Springs because he was from a small town, and he knew small towns needed good doctors too,” Marks said.

Maryclare Lica said her father had a “tremendous bedside manner” that translated into an exceptional level of care and attention for his family.

In 1958, Woodson found himself a single father of two after his first wife, the former Mary Alice McDougall, died unexpectedly. Two years later he married the former Harriet Allen, who had four children from a previous marriage.

“There was no question, he loved us like we were his own,” Marks said. “He was the only father I’ve ever known.”

Harriet Marks Woodward said her father was a nonjudgmental man who had a natural curiosity about people and life.

“He never felt he was too old to learn something new,” she said.

In addition to son Ed Marks and daughters Maryclare Lica and Harriet Marks Woodward, Dr. Chip Woodson is survived by three other children, Dr. Grattan C. Woodson III, Carolyn Marks and Carter Marks-Clayton, all of Atlanta; and seven grandchildren.