American Field

Dr. Samuel Taylor Bickley

February 25, 1931—February 11, 2021
By Elizabeth Bickley Negin | Apr 05, 2021
Dr. Samuel T. Bickley

High Point, N.C. — Dr. Samuel Taylor Bickley passed away peacefully the morning of February 11 in his home in High Point, N. C.

Dr. Bickley was born February 25, 1931 in Johnson City, Tenn. His parents were Lucy Claire Gray Bickley, a teacher, and Jonathan Taylor Bickley, who owned a small cattle farm and worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Dr. Bickley was educated in the Washington County, Tennessee public schools, graduating from Boone’s Creek High School where he finished as Salutatorian. He attended East Tennessee State University for his undergraduate studies, then transferred to and graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a major in agriculture. He had a passion for farming and was a life-long student of the land.

Dr. Sam then entered the School of Veterinary Medicine at Alabama Polytechnic Institute at Auburn, Ala. After graduation from veterinary school, Dr. Bickley entered a private  veterinary practice in Greenville, Tenn., after which he joined the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps at Fort Sam Houston, Tex. He served as post veterinarian at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and then posted to Fifth Army Headquarters in Chicago where he completed a course of instruction in food inspection in hygiene.

Following his active duty, Dr. Bickley was appointed associate professor of veterinary medicine in the Department of Animal Husbandry of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

After assisting the post’s surgeon during his time at Fort Leonard Wood, Dr. Bickley decided his medical future was with people. He left veterinary medicine and entered medical school in September, 1957 at Bowman Gray College of Medicine at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. During his tenure he was president of the class of 1958, president of the student chapter of the American Medical Association, and served on various committees and associations of the medical school.

Following graduation in 1961, Dr. Bickley entered a rotating internship in surgery and obstetrics at the U.S. Army Hospital in Fort Benning, Ga. He then returned to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem for 1961-1962 where he completed a residency in ophthalmology. He later widened his field to family practice, obstetrics and surgery.

Dr. Sam married Sarah Barham Vance, then a kindergarten teacher from Kernersville, N.C., on December 15, 1962. Dr. and Mrs. Bickley moved to Yadkinville, N.C., where he became chief of staff of Lulu Conrad Hoots Memorial Hospital and opened his own family medicine practice. He pursued an active medical career  in addition to being the Medical Examiner of Surry County. During this period, his practice encompassed obstetrics and he delivered, by his own estimate, more than 3,000 babies during his career.

In 1965, Dr. and Mrs. Bickley moved with their young daughter to Elkin, N.C., to establish a thriving medical practice. Many patients followed the young doctor from Yadkinville to Elkin, driving from one town to the other for medical care and which established many lasting patient relationships and friendships.

In 1978, Dr. and Mrs. Bickley moved to High Point, N.C., where he established a successful medical practice, which included both hospital and nursing home practices. Dr. Bickley was instrumental in establishing a family practice section within the medical staff at High Point Regional Hospital. This proved to elevate family practice as a specialty within the hospital group.

In the later part of his medical career, Dr. Bickley worked as a physician at Bethany Clinic in High Point until his retirement. He continued to serve patients there, many of whom he had seen for decades. He tended to the medical needs of multiple generations, sometimes having delivered children and grandchildren of the same family. He was one of the last doctors in High Point to accept Medicaid, often treating patients for little or no fee.

Throughout the years, in addition to his medical practice, Dr. Bickley became a certified private pilot and medical examiner for aviation. He enjoyed flying to hunting or fishing destinations with his club, The Flying Physicians.

Born on a farm in East Tennessee, the rural South was always in his blood. He had a passion for hunting, riding and bird dogs. He made his farm available for local field trials.

Dr. Bickley  had a vast circle of friends from every walk of life. On occasion throughout his career, Dr. Bickley was also called to render veterinary service; he was known to friends as the doctor who could treat anything from goldfish up. In Elkin, his office sported a large sign that read: “WALK IN DOCTOR — MAN OR BEAST.” Helping those in need, whether animal or human, was his life-long purpose and in doing so he built strong bonds with countless friends and former patients. Dr. Bickley’s impact, like his laugh, proved outsized and heartfelt.

Dr. Bickley is survived by two daughters, Sarah Alice Bickley of Durham, N.C., and Elizabeth Gray Bickley Negin of Baltimore, Md.; their husbands, John O’Brien and Carl Negin; and four grandchildren.

Dr. Samuel T. Bickley will be interred with his beloved wife Sarah in the Columbarium at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in High Point. There will be a service and celebration of life in late summer 2021.

Memorial donations may be made to the St. Mary’s Music Endowment Fund (108 W. Farris Avenue, High Point, North Carolina, 27262) or memorial contributions may be sent to The National Wild Turkey Federation. (N.W.T.F.) in Dr. Sam T. Bickley’s name (N.W.T.F., P.O. Box 530, Edgefield, South Carolina, 29824).

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