When Dr. Larry Anderson and wife Pat started their search for a community to retire in, they were persuaded to relocate to Dawson County by close friends, Mike and Jane Berg.
Larry said he was looking at Dawson and Lumpkin counties, said Berg, current chair of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners and a personal friend of Andersons for more than 25 years. But I told him he didnt have a choice, he just had to come here.
Anderson said after looking through demographic research, he determined the countys growing population wasnt keeping pace with its health care providers. It was an opportunity for him to get involved and open his practice.
There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come, he added.
In 2004, Anderson opened his practice at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Lumpkin Campground Road. He began advertising his business by parking a Dodge truck in his parking lot with a sign in the bed that read in bold red letters: Good doctor looking for a few good patients!
Andersons friend of over 50 years, Mike Warlick, assisted with the marketing the practice.
Mike suggested that I needed to give something away, said Anderson.
After their conversation, Anderson purchased a peanut boiler and Warlick sat on the roadside and handed out boiled peanuts. We put them in Styrofoam cups and gave an extra cup for the hulls, said Anderson. Mike would stick my business card in between the two stacked cups before handing them out.
Andersons marketing tactics may have been considered small to some. But, he had other long-term goals in mind: to dive head-first into the community and educate himself about the health and spirit of Dawson Countys residents.
My next involvement was in 2005, when Mike Berg again called and asked me to serve on the countys board of health, Anderson explained. The boards physician was retiring and Anderson accepted the opportunity. One year later, Anderson was elected to serve as chairman of the board. As of today, he remains in that position.
Now, Anderson just cant help himself.
In June, he finished serving as President of the Dawson County Rotary Club, and he is currently serving a two-year term as its past president.
Next, he accepted the position of Medical Director of the Good Shepherd Clinic when offered by Mark Weaver, the late pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church. I told Mark being the Medical Director was the easy part getting all the volunteers needed to run the clinic would be the hard part. Then, we were overwhelmed by the number of volunteers who actually run the clinic.
Andersons work doesnt stop there. As a former door gunner in a Chinook helicopter in 1967 with the First Air Cavalry Division, Anderson qualified to join the local Vietnam Veterans Association, and he did.
He was selected as the Veteran of the Year for his outstanding service in 2009.
His medical practice also became the first Georgia Work Ready employer in the county and has since hired three new employees all of whom scored a rating of gold or higher on the programs assessment.
Anderson has participated in other programs sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce including Leadership Dawson, and the Georgia Academy of Economic Development.
In addition to Andersons local activities, he also serves once a year as a Doctor of the Day during the General Assembly session at the Georgia State Capitol.
I am there to assist if one of the senators or representatives should become ill during session, Anderson explained. The on-site clinic treats 20 patients per day on average, including visitors touring the capitol.
Additionally, he is a member of the Board of Governors of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, where he will serve as the boards president in 2015.
Anderson holds an appointment as an Associate Professor in Clinical Medicine and teaches fourth-year medical students through his practice. They are always in my office, he said, and I am grateful that my patients allow them to participate in their medical care, giving them the opportunity to become good doctors.
Anderson said that he is appreciative of his patients support and would like to see his practice and the countys health care services continue to grow.
I want a hospital to take interest in Dawson County. We need services like that so our citizens dont have to travel so far to seek medical care a hospital provides.
By looking through Andersons resume and his list of accomplishments, it is clear that he has already achieved his long-term goals.
Larry is not the type of doctor that stays at the country club and has no interest in his surroundings, said Gary Pichon, county commissioner. Hes right there with the rest of us, engaged in helping our community.
I think the thing that impresses me most about him is how quickly he became part of the community. He is the ultimate in civic and community-oriented service. Hes just one of the types of people you want here.
He is a good doctor, but hes a better person.