From pandemics to protests: Medical school’s oldest living alumni turns 103 years old
Born in 1917, Wayne State University School of Medicine Class of 1942 alumnus George Mogill, M.D., has seen not one, but two global pandemics in his lifetime.
He has also witnessed more than a few civil unrests due to racial tension, from the marches and riots for civil rights in 1968 – “It wasn’t good,” he said, about the mistreatment of Blacks then – to the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.
“It shouldn’t happen,” he added.
The retired Family Medicine physician and World War II veteran who turned 103 July 28 has spent almost a lifetime caring for those who needed it most, opening only the third integrated clinic in Detroit as a physician, and making house calls for those who couldn’t get to the office.
He opened his Detroit office on Second Avenue, and rounded at Grace Hospital in the morning and at lunch, seeing 30 to 40 patients a day. His mother was the office nurse. Every day of the week he hosted a specialist in his office, from dentists to eye doctors to obstetrician/gynecologists, “so all his patients from all walks of life could get the care they needed,” said his daughter, Jain Lauter. “He made sure the indigent had access to anybody.”
He also visited homebound patients referred by the Wayne County Medical Society, carrying his trusty black medical bag filled with tools, medicine and supplies. “We went everywhere, if there was a sick person,” Dr. Mogill said.
Would he be a doctor again? “Absolutely,” he added.
Dr. Mogill, the School of Medicine’s oldest living alumni member, celebrated his birthday with a drive-by celebration attended by more than 125 of his family, friends and former patients, including some he delivered, as well as Wayne State staff and faculty members.
He received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from WSU in 1937. He graduated from the Wayne University College of Medicine in 1942, completed a one-year surgery internship, and then joined the United States Army Medical Corps in 1943. He landed in Normandy four days after D-Day, caring for patients in the Army’s 8th Field Hospital in France and Germany.
He moved his practice to Royal Oak, Mich., for a time before returning to a WSU-affiliated clinic to secure the school’s Family Medicine residency. He joined the School of Medicine’s faculty in 1972 as a clinical instructor in the Department of Family Medicine. He continued to teach throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century.
Dr. Mogill was chief of the Department of Family Practice at Harper-Grace Hospital from 1977 to 1984 and later at Sinai-Grace Hospital. He is a lifetime member and former board member of the School of Medicine Alumni Association. In 2016, he received a special Lifetime Achievement Citation for his meritorious loyalty and commitment to the School of Medicine, the field of medicine, and the teaching and mentoring of medical students and residents. Of the many doctors he educated he said, “I took them wherever I went. Where I went, they went.”
The George Mogill, M.D., Endowed Award for Family Medicine – a gift to the school established in 2000 by a former patient of the doctor – is presented annually during Match Day to a graduating senior committed to specializing in Family Medicine. The award is based on qualities and characteristics exemplified by Dr. Mogill, including scholastic achievement, compassion, volunteerism, leadership, respect of peers, and a sense of humor and joyfulness.
His advice for medical students? “Go for broke. If you want to be a doctor, go for broke.”
What was his favorite thing about being a doctor? “Taking care of people. Yeah,” he said.