A Decatur internist, hospital volunteer and community-minded engineer, who touch thousands of lives each year through their work and service, will be honored for their impact on Morgan County.
During the Decatur Morgan County Hospital Foundation’s Gala 35 on Dec. 13 at Ingalls Harbor, Dr. Scott Matthews, Blake McAnally and Tom Guyton will receive the Caddell-Grisham Award.
“When I think of these three men, one common theme is above and beyond. Each of them most definitely has a servant’s heart and is a huge asset to the hospital and the community,” said foundation president Noel Lovelace. “They just seem to go the extra mile in everything they do.”
Named after John Caddell, the Decatur attorney who served as the guiding force behind the Decatur Morgan Hospital, and Trudy Grisham, who led the foundation for 33 years, the Caddell-Grisham Award recognizes individuals committed to improving Decatur.
Selection of the honorees rests with past award recipients who also served on the foundation board.
Previous honorees include community, civic and medical leaders Julian Harris, Dr. George Hansberry, the Community Free Clinic, June Odom, Jim Odom, Dr. Scott Harris, Loretta Troup, Athelyne Banks, Wally Terry, Betty Sims, Dr. Bill Sims, Jimmy Smith, Dr. Lynn Naylor, Dr. Steve Chandler, Dr. Paul McCain, Dr. Ken Chandler, former Decatur Mayor Lynn Fowler, former state board of education member Dr. Charles Elliott, Sonny Craig, Dr. Bob Walker, Noel Shinn, Dr. Kermit Pitt, Raymon Baker, deLoain Burgess, Ronnie Dukes, Dr. Dyrc Sibrans, Melissa Craig, Dr. Kin Copeland and the award’s namesakes John Caddell and Trudy Grisham.
“I know a lot of the folks who received this award. I have worked with them and consider many of them my heroes,” Matthews said.
Tickets to Gala 35, a black-tie dinner and dance with live music and a silent auction, cost $350 per couple. In the past 34 years, the annual gala raised funds for building and equipping the oncology center, nuclear cardiology diagnostic equipment, mammography equipment, employee scholarships, nursery needs, the women’s center and a mobile medical unit. Proceeds from the event will go to the hospital’s labor and delivery department.
As a child, Blake McAnally watched his mother cook and deliver food to people in need and his father assist individuals with housing.
“They were more concerned about other people than themselves. Everything they did made a profound impact on me. They were always taking care of people in need,” McAnally said. “All of my family had a propensity for being involved with the church and the community. As a young child, I didn’t know there was any other way of doing things.”
Now, McAnally serves as the example.
A civil engineer and president of Pugh Wright McAnally, the 57-year-old Decatur resident has served on the boards of educational, economic, health care, arts and religious organizations on a regional and national level.
“My faith is critical to me,” said McAnally, a shepherd at Beltline Church of Christ. “I strive to live it, not just talk about it. In the Bible, we are commanded to help those in need and to see that things are just and right. I place a very high value on doing whatever I can to make a difference and make people’s lives a little better.”
McAnally achieves those goals in both his professional and his personal life.
“I firmly believe that as a Christian business owner, I’ve got to be concerned about the things that are critical to the community. For me, that is education, health care and economic development,” McAnally said.
A native of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, McAnally, a Decatur resident for 35 years, graduated from Lawrence County High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology at the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1985.
“I started off in high school thinking I was going to be an architect. Then I realized I preferred to work outside and civil engineering afforded me that option,” McAnally said. “I guess I got fortunate. I started studying something that I fell in love with. I’ve been doing it for 35 years and still love it.”
After graduating from UT-Martin, McAnally moved to Decatur with his wife, Patty, and worked for Mabry Engineering, now known as Pugh Wright McAnally.
As a young professional, he saw the values introduced to him by his parents reinforced by Decatur’s business community and the church.
“I came here at 22 years old and saw a lot of people who were very involved in the community. They were out there doing those things to help fulfill needs in the community,” said McAnally, who worked for the current Pugh Wright McAnally from 1985 to 1989 and from 2004 to today.
When McAnally, who commuted to Huntsville for work from 1989 to 2004, returned to Decatur, he dedicated himself to bettering the community. He served on the boards for the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation, the Decatur City Schools Foundation, the Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center and River Clay Fine Arts Festival.
He continues to sit on the board for Lads to Leaders, the Church of Christ’s national leadership training program for youth, and the Alabama Community College System, which impacts more than 200,000 people.
“I have volunteered with a lot of things, but the most important thing I’ve ever been part of is the church. I take to heart the parable of the talents. I believe God gave me the talent to lead people. If I stood on the sidelines and did not do that, I would feel guilty,” McAnally said. “I also volunteer because I love Decatur and the people here. The opportunity to affect things here for good is an honor.”
McAnally, who, as a young engineer, sat in on meetings between Joel Pugh and John Caddell, and, as an established businessman, served on the hospital’s foundation’s board with Trudy Grisham, described the Caddell-Grisham Award as very humbling.
“This is quite an honor. It’s not something sought, but it is something cherished,” McAnally said.
McAnally will attend the gala with his wife Patty, children Cara Elliott and Patrick McAnally, parents Harold and Linda McAnally and parents-in-law Jimmy and Elizabeth Land.
Before he started practicing medicine at Decatur Morgan Hospital and before he served as the institution’s medicine chairman, an 18-year-old Scott Matthews applied for a summer position at the medical facility.
“Not a lot of people know this, but I actually tried to get a summer job at the hospital. I had heard they hired students on for a surgical assistant type role. I interviewed, but I didn’t get it,” Matthews said with a laugh.
That summer, Matthews landed a job at the Decatur Orthopedic Clinic and started on a medical journey that would take him to Birmingham and lead him back to Decatur.
“When I left Decatur for college, I thought I was leaving for good, but the farther away I got and the longer I was away, the more I felt called back here. By the end of medical school, I knew this was where I needed to be. I love it here,” said Matthews, who lives in Decatur with his wife, Meredith, and daughters, Lydia and Miriam.
The son of an engineer and a teacher, Matthews’ interest in medicine began in middle school. The 45-year-old internist credited his desire to pursue medicine, in part, to his 95-year-old grandmother Martha Matthews.
“I talk with her every week and she always asks about my most interesting cases,” Matthews said. “She used to get ‘The New England Journal of Medicine.’ Had she been born today, I’m certain she would’ve been a doctor. She is one of the strongest women I have ever known.”
Working under Drs. Bill Sims, Ewin Jenkins, Bob Sparks and Dabney Hofammann at Decatur Orthopedic Clinic cemented Matthews’ future in medicine. There, he sat in on surgeries, worked on casts and learned the ins and outs of the clinic.
“I thought I was helping them. They paid me to do what I did. In all actuality, they were paying me to be a student and to learn,” Matthews said. “I worked for them three summers. After that first summer, I knew I wanted to do some sort of medicine.”
A graduate of Austin High, Matthews earned a degree in math from Birmingham-Southern College, where he completed an interim semester with Dr. Ron Workman, and attended medical school at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, where he spent a rotation in Decatur working with Dr. George Hansberry, Dr. Charles Prickett and Dr. Ken Chandler.
“If you look at it in retrospect, I couldn’t have been more fortunate. I feel like I’ve been blessed beyond what I should have,” Matthews said. “Look at all the amazing physicians I’ve been able to learn from in Decatur. I not only respect them as physicians. I respect them as men.”
From those staples of the Decatur medical community — Sims, Jenkins, Sparks, Hofammann, Workman, Prickett, Chandler and Hansberry — Matthews learned about cultivating relationships with patients, serving the city, leading the hospital and the importance of continued learning.
Hansberry, Matthews said, taught him one of the most important lessons. After working at the hospital for about three years, Matthews was considering joining an outside practice. The self-described horrible businessman needed advice so he approached Hansberry, who Matthews described as a wonderful physician and great businessman.
“I told him ‘I feel pretty good about the practice of medicine, but I don’t understand anything about the business of medicine.’ What he told me was to practice good medicine and everything else will take care of itself,” Matthews said. “That stuck with me. I’m a horrible businessman, but my family has what we need. We all have to remember why we’re doing this.”
For Matthews, the reason lies in the extended relationships he forms with patients. The opportunity to create those relationships spurred Matthews to specialize in internal medicine rather than surgery.
“I’ve got patients I’ve been seeing for 14 years. You learn in medicine that there are boundaries, but, you know, when you care about someone, those boundaries go away. My patients become part of my family and I have become part of theirs. That’s the joy of doing medicine and also that hard part too,” Matthews said.
Along with Matthews’ wife and daughters, his parents, Turner and Betty Matthews, his brothers and sisters-in-law, Andy and Heather Matthews and Chris and Brooke Matthews, and members of his staff, Carol Strong, Renee Bass, Renae Grayben and Joyce Long will attend the Gala.
“I hope people say I live with integrity and tried really hard to make this place just a little bit better,” Matthews said.
A colored postcard featuring an image of the Ladies Benevolent Society Hospital sits in Tom Guyton Jr.’s Hartselle home. For Guyton, the picture of the two-story brick building — the precursor to Decatur Morgan Hospital — represents a piece of his history and heritage.
“My grandmother lived in the hospital’s basement and raised her children here,” the 79-year-old Guyton said. “She was the first superintendent of nurses here in 1918. She left when my father started practicing medicine in 1938. I’ve got a lot of heritage here. This place is important to me.”
In the past 14 years, Guyton, like his father, Tom Guyton, Sr., and his grandmother, Elizabeth Morris Guyton, has become a fixture of the Decatur Morgan Hospital.
“Most of our volunteers work a four-hour shift a week. Not Tom. He works from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday. Everybody knows Tom. He is such an encourager of everyone who walks in the hospital,” Noel Lovelace said.
Clad in the iconic red coat all hospital volunteers wear, Guyton stands at his post at the hospital’s entrance three days a week, greeting visitors, providing directions, pushing wheelchairs and visiting with staff.
“I enjoy greeting people. I see so many people who seem to have worried looks on their faces. It gives me a chance to smile and welcome them. That’s just my way of giving back a little bit and throwing some warmth their way,” Guyton said. “A smile is free. Sometimes those free smiles make a difference.”
That desire to make a difference spurred Guyton, who retired from banking after 33 years, to begin volunteering at the hospital in 2006.
“I retired at 65 and stayed retired about a month and a half. I decided it wasn’t for me. I had to do something and I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do than volunteer here,” Guyton said.
For Guyton, who was born in the Ladies Benevolent Society Hospital, volunteering at the medical facility signifies a return to his roots.
“My first day as a volunteer, I asked if I could see the room I was born in. Of course, it is long gone, but there are pieces of my past still here. There is bill for a hospital service signed by my grandmother and a nursing certificate signed by her here. It’s neat to see those things,” Guyton said.
As the grandson of a nurse and the son of a physician, Guyton, as a child, briefly considered pursuing medicine. That changed, however, when he convinced his father to let him sit in on an appendectomy.
“I was so excited. We got in the surgery room and I remembered how cold it was, I remembered hearing a sound, I remembered smelling something and then I woke up in a hospital bed,” Guyton said. “I had collapsed in the surgery suite. I figured then that medicine was not for me.”
In 1963, the graduate of Decatur High School and Sewanee enlisted in the Navy and served four years.
“I’m very patriotic. If I’ve done anything in life that I am the most proud of, that was it. I served my country,” Guyton said.
After completing his service, Guyton and his wife, Linda, returned to north Alabama, where he worked for the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, as an office manager with his father’s medical group and in the banking industry.
“I enjoyed banking before it was all about the numbers, when it was personal. I think that’s why I like volunteering here so much. I get to make those personal connections,” Guyton said. “When I take visitors in the hospital somewhere, I talk to them. I find out where they’re from, if their visiting, if they have someone in the hospital and how they’re doing.”
Along with greeting visitors, Guyton serves as a constant support to the hospital’s staff.
“Some of them share their hardships with me. I think, sometimes, we forget that the doctors and nurses have troubles of their own,” Guyton said. “I carry cards with me that have Philippians 4:6-7 on them. I don’t know if they look the Bible verse up, but I like to think it may be of some help to them.”
As Guyton prepares to celebrate 15 years with the hospital, the legacy of his family’s role in health care continues to grow. Tom and Linda Guyton have two daughters, Virginia Guyton White, who works for Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Birmingham, and Mary Thompson, a physical therapist in Arley, and four grandchildren. The Guyton’s oldest granddaughter is currently enrolled in Calhoun Community College’s nursing program.
“I think everybody needs to give back if they are able to. You can do it in a number of different ways. For me, the opportunity to be associated with this hospital, which has meant so much to my family, is how I want to spend my days. It’s been a blessing on my life. I get a lot more out of it than I give,” Guyton said.