Published on July 29, 2022

Retired Doctors Gather for Coffee, Connection

retired doctors meet

Pictured are (front row, from left) Drs. Benton Hilbun, C.J. Sanders, Pat Ewing, Bill Kahlstorf, Ken Harvey (second row, from left) Sam Pace, Buddy Wikle, Mitch Massey, Joseph Chappell, C.K. “Dick” White, Matt Wesson, Tom Wesson, Harold Hudson, Mary Pace and Alan Flowers.  

TUPELO, Mississippi—Some of the greatest minds and biggest hearts in Tupelo meet regularly over coffee to catch up and tend longtime friendships.

Around 20 retired physicians meet every other Wednesday morning at Talbot House Bakery in Tupelo. The bakery is the social enterprise of Talbot House, a nonprofit transition program for women who are in early recovery from substance abuse. “It’s a wonderful place to meet,” says Dr. Barney Guyton, “because we’re able to contribute financially to their cause.”

Dr. Guyton joined North Mississippi Medical Center’s medical staff in 1979 and practiced one year of internal medicine before completing a gastroenterology fellowship and returning to Tupelo in 1982. He wrapped up his medical career in 2016 and soon joined the coffee group.

“It’s just a great opportunity for us to be with each other,” Dr. Guyton says. “We’re a very close-knit group. Whether a surgeon or an OB/GYN, we’re just all good friends.”

Longtime otolaryngologist Dr. Harold Hudson treated ear, nose and throat issues for 33 years in Tupelo before retiring in 2006. When Drs. Hudson and Guyton joined the medical staff, NMMC only had around 50 physicians. “We knew everybody and most everybody’s family,” Dr. Hudson says. “I thoroughly enjoyed practicing medicine. We worked really hard – sometimes we would be on call every night—but it was very rewarding work. In addition to practicing medicine, we were all really involved in community service.”

The late Dr. F.L. Lummus, a retired internal medicine physician, is credited with starting the coffee group around 2000. The late Dr. Butch Guest helped keep the group going over the years.

“We enjoy keeping up with all the retired doctors,” Dr. Hudson says. “We also discuss what’s happening with modern medicine.”

“We recount old stories,” Dr. Guyton adds. “We talk about how things are different from when we were practicing. We have some good discussions and try to stay educated on what’s new in medicine.”

Dr. Mary Pace is often the lone female in the group. She and her husband, Dr. Sam Pace, launched their internal medicine practices in Tupelo in 1980. He retired in 2013, and she followed in 2020. “It’s kind of what I was used to throughout most of my medical career,” Dr. Mary Pace says. “When I was in medical school, only about 10% of my class was female. Now that number is up to 50-60%.”

But there’s more to the group than just chatter – their coffee outings keep them connected. “When someone is sick, we support each other. If someone no longer drives or can’t for some reason, we pick them up,” Dr. Guyton says. “We’re all getting older, and we’ve lost some along the way.”

Several members of the coffee group go back even farther together than their days on the NMMC medical staff. “Dr. Kahlstorf, Dr. Sanders and Dr. Guyton were all in residency training with us,” Dr. Mary Pace says. “When Sam and I moved back to Tupelo after serving in the Navy, I was pregnant with our second child, and Dr. C.J. Sanders delivered him—so we have both professional and personal connections. It’s really nice that we’ve been able to maintain these relationships with one another.”

Retired OB-GYN Dr. C.J. Sanders, who practiced in Tupelo for more than 30 years, enjoys “trading stories” and sharing life with his former colleagues now that retirement has afforded them more time to do so. “I just really enjoy it. We’re all old friends,” he says, “but now I think we’re even closer.”

To all these doctors and many others who have poured their lives into our community’s health and quality of life over the years, we say “thank you.” 

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