Thursday, April 1, 2010


Dr. James Hicks Alexander, 78;
Decades-long pediatrician
By Rick Badie

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dr. James Alexander loved animals and children.

For the latter, he became a pediatrician.

For the former, he bred Airedale terriers, which he owned while growing up in Dublin, a Middle Georgia town.

There, a relative had been a doctor. At 6, the nephew chose a career.

"He stuck to it," said Dorothy Alexander his wife. "He loved kids and decided to go into pediatrics, and he was in pediatrics for 50 years. It was an inner thing with him. He'd meet a child and say, ‘Would you like to see my interpretation of a turtle?' He'd wait. Then he'd ask it again. He would come up with crazy things like that."

On Wednesday, Dr. James Hicks Alexander of Dunwoody died from complications of dementia at Silverleaf Alzheimer Care in Snellville. He was 78. A funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Sandy Springs Chapel, which is in charge of arrangements.

After undergrad studies at the University of Georgia, Dr. Alexander graduated from the Medical College of Georgia. He completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where he met his wife of 50 years.

For 12 years, he ran a private pediatric practice in St. Claire Shores, Mich. He served as vice chairman of the pediatrics department at St. John's Hospital & Medical Center, as well as co-chairman of the pediatric unit at Holy Cross Hospital, two Detroit providers.

In 1972, he, his wife and three children returned to Georgia, settling in metro Atlanta. He joined the practice of Richard B. Smith and the late Marvin Davis. The three pediatricians retired in 2000.

Dr. Smith of DeKalb County held Dr. Alexander in high regard.

"He was an excellent pediatrician and counselor," he said. "He was thorough and informed in every way. I have nothing but praise for him."

In Atlanta, Dr. Alexander served as vice president and president of the medical staff at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite; and vice chairman and chairman of the pediatric department and the medical staff at Northside Hospital. He was an ex-officio member of the Fulton County Hospital Authority. Moreover, he served on and oversaw various committees.

When it came to Airedale terriers, the UGA football fan usually kept two. He called one Yankee and the other Rebel.

"I knew nothing about the breed before we got married," his wife said. "He would be seen at the Atlanta dog shows showing his own Airedales. They are all dead now."

Besides dogs, Dr. Alexander enjoyed golf, refurbishing antiques and woodworking. He completely dismantled the vintage house where he grew up in Dublin, then moved it to Lake Lanier, where he rebuilt it into a five-bedroom cottage.

"He made it look like a modern home outside, but when you went inside there were all these heritage pieces," she said. "He could tell you about a light fixture that came from the bedroom in which he was born. There was nothing he could not do."

Additional survivors include two sons, Chris Alexanderand Mark Alexander, both of Duluth; a daughter, Cari Alexander of Suwanee; and nine grandchildren.

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