Recent Scores
  • Apr 18 / Girls LacrosseDenmark - 17, Lambert - 5
  • Apr 17 / Girls SoccerDenmark - 4, Duluth - 1
  • Apr 17 / Boys SoccerDenmark - 0, Discovery - 2
  • Feb 19 / Boys LacrosseDenmark - 16, Mountain View - 4
The Student News Site of Denmark High School

Denmark Unleashed

Revealing Stories, Inspiring Tomorrow
The Student News Site of Denmark High School

Denmark Unleashed

The Student News Site of Denmark High School

Denmark Unleashed

Dr. Denmark, the Greatest Dane

A image of a wall painting that displays values of being a Denmark Dane! (Amena Nouhaili)

On this campus, the word “Denmark” is as common as air itself. With it plastered on everything from signs to stationery to sweatpants, it is impossible to step foot on school grounds without unknowingly celebrating one of history’s greats. Denmark High School was named in honor of the late Dr. Leila Denmark, one of Atlanta’s first female pediatricians and a former Mullinax Road resident. Her status as a ceiling smasher and her ties to this region certainly warrant such tribute, but Dr. Denmark’s achievements in medicine, children’s healthcare, and human life are woefully undiscussed among students. The recently established “Denmark Day” may be over, but the Greatest Dane’s legacy extends well beyond material awards.

Though Dr. Denmark “was always interested in seeing things get well,” she hadn’t always intended to work in healthcare. After she and other military wives were not allowed to follow their spouses to a post in Java, Indonesia, she decided to apply to the University of Georgia for Medicine. She was denied admission to the Medical College at first due to a lack of seats, but the administration eventually accepted her as a part of the Class of 1928. Dr. Denmark was one of just two girls in the entire student body, and she was the only girl in her class. After graduating, she interned in Atlanta at the Black wards in then-segregated Grady Hospital and as the first intern at the Henrietta Egleston Hospital for Children (now part of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta).

After giving birth to her only child, Mary, in 1931, Dr. Denmark opened a private practice in her home and started volunteering at the Central Presbyterian Church baby clinic. A year later, the highly infectious and dangerous disease of whooping cough, or pertussis, invaded Atlanta. Characterized by a cough that sounds like a “whoop,” congestion, and sneezing, whooping cough can be fatal in infants and young children (“Whooping Cough”). Motivated by the suffering she witnessed at the baby clinic, Dr. Denmark began observing, researching, and experimenting on whooping cough patients. She contributed her research, which she published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, to pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly’s whooping cough vaccine. Their model was eventually replaced with a safer acellular version in the 1940s, but Dr. Denmark’s research provided the foundation for the modern whooping cough vaccine. In 1935, she was awarded the Fisher Award for her efforts in fighting the disease (“Dr. Leila Alice Daughtry Denmark”). 

“She was such an incredible and impressive doctor that she often treated as many as five generations of the same family!”

Another value displayed proudly on the wall for students to see and act on. (Amena Nouhaili)

Aiding in the creation of a life-saving vaccine was arguably the peak of Dr. Denmark’s lengthy medical career, but her contributions to pediatrics are just as noteworthy. Dr. Denmark’s main focus was affordable and effective children’s healthcare. She offered personalized care for kids and consultation for new mothers for less than ten dollars per visit (Shaw). She was such an incredible and impressive doctor that she often treated as many as five generations of the same family! In a radio interview with NPR, Rebecca Paden, a former patient of Dr. Denmark and an attendee of her funeral, reminisced about how Dr. Denmark treated Paden and her grandmother, mother, children, and grandchildren. Her simple yet successful remedies, such as implementing a feeding schedule to calm a restless baby, captivated the Atlanta and Forsyth communities (Greenblatt 19). In that same NPR interview, Dr. Denmark’s daughter Mary Hutcherson mentioned that her mother’s “main office equipment was a good pair of eyes and a brain that puts things together” (Edwards). 

In 2001, as her eyes were beginning to deteriorate, Dr. Denmark had no choice but to close her clinic. She retired at 103 years old and claimed the title of America’s oldest practicing physician. On April 1, 2012, she passed away in her daughter’s home in Athens (Shaw). She was a stellar researcher, pediatrician, and even author. One of her two books, Dr. Denmark Said It! Advice for Mothers from America’s Most Experienced Pediatrician (2002), is still popular amongst new mothers. Dr. Denmark received countless awards and honors both during and after her life, including Atlanta Woman of the Year in 1953 (“Dr Leila Alice Daughtry Denmark”). This past January, Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow declared February 1, Dr. Denmark’s birthday, as “Denmark Day” (Cumming City Council Minutes 1/16/24). Both her life and medical career are sadly over, but Dr. Denmark’s legacy lives on in Forsyth County through roads, a drone park, an upcoming library, and this high school.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Radhika Kulkarni
I read the entire Harry Potter series in two days and all I got was this lousy T-shirt. The Wizarding World was what first sparked my interest in writing, but I have since moved on from fantasy novels to breaking news and current events. Aside from writing, my hobbies include prying squeaky toys from my dogs’ mouths, spending too much money on video games, and tripping on flat surfaces. I am excited to be a part of Denmark Unleashed this year, and even more excited for you to stop looking at my photo!
Amena Nouhaili
Amena Nouhaili, Social Media Editor
I’m reluctantly continuing my third year in the revolving door I call school. I enjoy being a NPC in the halls, observing and judging for fun. When I'm not being a pessimist, I indulge in my weekly murder mystery podcast or bother  my cats. Putting all of that aside, I'm a journalism ethics follower before all else. And I'm excited to contribute to Denmark’s community through the Denmark Unleashed  social media.

Comments (1)

Feedback is welcomed and discussions are encouraged. However, any comments posted must not be insulting or vulgar.
All Denmark Unleashed Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • N

    natalieApr 23, 2024 at 11:09 am

    So important to write this article to share info about who this school is dedicated to! Very well written and fun to read!