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About Dr. Gavin

About Dr. Charles E. Gavin

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Dr. Charles Gavin grew up and lived in Chicago Heights, Illinois until his untimely death on January 9, 1971 at 44 years of age.  He left a wide and deep impact on the lives of so many people from all walks of life.  As an African-American growing up in the 1930’s and ‘40’s during severe economic and social times in Chicago Heights, “Buddy” as he was affectionately called, had all the attributes of being young and gifted. He was educated in School District 170 and graduated from Bloom Township High School with high honors.  

While at Bloom High School his outstanding academic performance earned him admission into the National Scholastic Honor Society which marked the first time an African-American student at the school had gained admission.  After servicing in World War II, Charles enrolled at the University of Illinois and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with high honors in three years.  He received an academic scholarship and attended the University of Chicago obtaining a Master’s degree in inorganic chemistry. He earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois, becoming one of the first African Americans to be certified and admitted after only one year of practice into the National College of orthopedic surgeons! While working at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights, Illinois, he became the head of the orthopedic staff and was called upon to develop that department at the hospital.

What made Dr. Charles Gavin outstanding was not all of his academic accomplishments, but what he gave back to the community and most importantly to every person who was touched by his humanitarianism and his life long dedication to serving their needs whether they could pay for his services or not. When patients were concerns about not being able to pay for services, Dr. Gavin was known to say "that's okay because there is no charge today." In fact, he had a habit of "forgetting" to send patients their bills. Many patients would shower him with food and other gifts to show their appreciation for his generosity. All people regardless of their socio-economic status, ethnicity, or creed received outstanding quality medical care with respect and dignity from Dr. Gavin.  He felt that human beings deserved good medical care to improve their quality of life. He believed his life was meant to be in the service of his fellow man.

Dr. Gavin epitomized the twin values of academic excellence and social responsibility. When he died at the age of 44 years old, friends, family and neighbors gathered and asked what could be done to continue the humanitarian love shown by Dr, Gavin helping people. It just must not stop with his death. The Dr. Charles E. Gavin Memorial Foundation was then planned and developed.