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Doctor Bertron “Bert” Don Haywood, aged 89, of Raleigh NC, quietly departed this life on October 16, 2023, at his home. He was born April 13, 1934, to Elizabeth Haywood in a small home on Main Street in Garner, NC. He was born in the home built by his great grandfather and grandmother, Allen Haywood and Holly Roundtree, who were born into slavery. “Bertram” was the name originally given to the baby boy at birth. However, as a young boy, he wanted to have his first name rhyme with his middle name “Don.” So from that point on, he wrote “Bertron” instead of “Bertram.” Bertron continued to live in this home with his grandparents, James, and Leila Haywood. Under their guidance, he joined Wake Baptist Grove Church in Garner. In later adulthood, he joined St. Paul A.M.E. Church in downtown Raleigh.
Bertron attended Garner’s all-black local schools. His choice of college was limited by segregation, but he proudly enrolled at Shaw University in Raleigh. At Shaw, he met his college sweetheart, a beautiful young woman from Columbia, NC, named Myrtle Marie Owens. They were married in the presence of family members on November 25, 1957, in the front parlor of his childhood home. Also at Shaw, Bertron became a dedicated member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He formed lifelong friendships with line members Melvin Broadnax, John Martin, and William “Judson” Williams, who had been his childhood best friend. Later, these three men and their families became part of many happy gatherings in Bertron and Myrtle’s home. Having graduated with a B.S. degree, Bertron taught high school in Weldon, NC, and then in Charlotte, NC, where he met two more Kappa men destined to become lifelong friends: Raymond Rorie and Rufus Pettis.
Knowing he wanted to progress beyond the bachelor’s degree, Bertron applied for and was granted a fellowship from the National Science Foundation to attend graduate school for a year at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He returned to enroll in the master’s program in chemistry at North Carolina Central University. After receiving the degree, he joined the faculty at Winston Salem State University in fall 1964 to teach chemistry. His family had earlier expanded to include baby daughter Carla June Haywood.
Bertron enjoyed college teaching, but another goal loomed large to fuel his professional development. In 1966, God granted him the beginnings of a true-life mission: He was accepted into Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, to begin studying to become a doctor. Interestingly, he had been delivered in Garner by a Dr. Buffalo. Bertron often mentioned that from the time he remembered, he followed Dr. Buffalo as the doctor went on house calls. Young Bertron told Dr. Buffalo that he was doing so because “He was going to be a doctor, too.”
Beside every great man, there is an even greater woman. Bertron asked wife Myrtle to grant him two years of medical school study as a solo student, and she agreed. She returned to eastern North Carolina, to her hometown of Columbia, NC, where she taught in both Hyde and Tyrrell County school systems. This partnership with a wife who supported his dream was the catalyst that he needed to jumpstart those studies. A few medical schools had rejected his application, saying he was “too old” to withstand the rigorous study and high expectations. He was only 32 years old.
Over the years, Bertron reminisced about this journey. He proudly said that Myrtle earned a medical degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology as much as he did because without her financial and emotional support, becoming a medical student would not have been possible for him. After his first two years, Myrtle and their daughter Carla June relocated to Nashville. There was another surprise in store for the family: The Haywoods found out that another child was on the way. They named their second girl Donna Elizabeth Haywood, ‘Donna’ the feminine version of Bertron’s middle name, “Don.”
After completing medical residency, family, home, and deep roots led Bertron back to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he became one of two board certified Ob Gyn African American doctors in Wake County. When he held the groundbreaking ceremony for a multi-disciplinary health complex, located at 100 Sunnybrook Road in Raleigh NC, behind the original Wake Medical Hospital, he was also the first African American doctor in the city to construct such an edifice. This historical moment continued the role of African American doctors in Raleigh, caring and catering to the greater African American community. This was Bertron’s dream as he returned to his home and provided health care. The complex also provided a place for some of Raleigh’s finest African American doctors to practice. The original doctors are listed here:
OB/GYN: Dr. Bertron Haywood, Dr. Anthony Flanagan, Dr. Ronald Gaither
Internal Medicine: Dr. Leroy Burton
Pediatrics: Dr. Frederick Burroughs
Dentistry: Dr. James Colson
Ophthalmology: Dr. Edwin Swan
General surgery: Dr. Milton Quigless
A pattern is evident in Bertron Don Haywood’s life. Being a high school and college teacher were fulfilling, but not quite enough. Being a doctor was fulfilling, but also not quite enough. Therefore, he added businessperson to his résumé and opened a restaurant, “Bertron’s Chicken and Barbeque,” with William “Judson” Williams help. He located the first business on Rand Road next to his great-great grandfather’s (Allen Haywood) general store in Garner’s African American community. He relied on wife Myrtle to assist him with business management, and again, she agreed. The restaurant became a community staple, providing food to feed the soul along with Southern hospitality. A second location followed, located in a strip mall on Sunnybrook Rd, Raleigh, near the health complex.
Bertron and Myrtle provided a balanced, good life for their daughters, who matured into responsible women. When the grandchildren came, Bertron easily filled the role of a doting grandfather, and loved being so.
As the years advanced, retirement was never a part of Bertron’s plans. However, as his wife’s health declined, he made the decision to close his office in 2007. He was fully engaged in her care, not only as a physician but as an attentive husband. Myrtle Marie Owens Haywood departed this life in 2009. Bertron continued to be professionally engaged, using his medical degree and expertise for disability determination at the NC Department of Health and Human Services where he reviewed and approved or rejected insurance claims from the state and the country. He retired from this position in 2020 at the age of 86 years old.
One of Bertron’s favorite activities—traveling—didn’t cease when he retired from the ObGyn practice. He had enjoying travel through the years, visiting most of the United States with his wife and daughters. During retirement, however, he began to travel internationally, accompanied by his dear companion Helen Adams. They visited Israel, India, Australia, Brazil and Nepal.
For 30-plus years, Bertron served his community. Family and home were his anchors. He was a generous giver, not only donating to churches and organizations but also contributing to family and friends, especially as a supporter of relatives’ education. He was also a successful gardener and enjoyed inviting family, friends, and colleagues to come gather produce. He enjoyed and cherished a well-lived life.
Preceding Bertron in death were siblings Thomas Rogers, Carolyn Haywood Rogers, and Margaret Rhodes.
Left to cherish a long life of memories about Bertron are daughters Carla Rogers and Donna H. Scannelli (Ron). His grandchildren are Dr. Corianne Denise Rogers and Preston Don Rogers; and Jonah, Elijah, and Aida Scannelli. He will be fondly cherished by his brother Billy Rogers, sister-in-law Dr. Joyce Pettis Temple, and beloved nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends.
Public Viewing: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM, Sunday, October 22, 2023 at Lea Funeral Home, 2500 Poole Road, Raleigh, NC.
Wake: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM, Sunday October 22, 2023 Lea Funeral Home Chapel, 2500 Poole Road, Raleigh, NC.
Graveside: 10:00 AM, Monday, October 23, 2023 at Carolina Biblical Gardens, 1530 Creech Road, Garner, NC.