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George Clyde Debnam, MD was born on November 5,1927 in Youngsville in Franklin County to a family of sharecroppers. His father, James Otis Debnam, died when Dr. Debnam was 6 months of age so he had to leave his widowed mother, Cherry Smith Debnam and move in with relatives. He completed elementary and secondary school in Youngsville and moved to Raleigh in 1943 to attend Shaw University as a 15 year old. With only short interruptions to attend Meharry Medical College and serving our country in the Korean war, Dr. Debnam was a resident of Raleigh, NC. He worked tirelessly in terms of supporting the healthcare, education and social advancement of the Raleigh Community.
Dr. Debnam practiced medicine for 50 years and 6 months here in Raleigh. He practiced in his private practice and also maintained a large hospital practice; he also saw his patients when they entered nursing homes. He provided quality care for thousands of people in the Raleigh area, especially those in Southeast Raleigh and also in the Fuquay and Holly Springs part of Wake County.
Dr.Debnam was trained in Family practice and in that capacity provided general medical care, obstetrics and some surgery for many years. Dr. George C. Debnam was cited by the Governor of this state for being the physician to deliver the most babies ever in the state of North Carolina--10,000+. He also performed over 5,000 operations. He retired from practice in 2001 but his legacy still lives on through his twin daughters, Marie Georgette Debnam, MD and Marjorie Lynnette Debnam, MD who joined him in his practice after completing their Internal medicine residency at the Harvard Medical School affliated Cambridge Hospital in 1995. The practice continued to grow and relocated to a new office building in 2013.
Dr. Debnam was also historic in the integration of Raleigh's health care as his practice started at Saint Agnes Hospital--the segregated facility for African American citizens of Raleigh and he was the first physician to admit patients to the new integrated Wake Medical Center(then Wake Memorial Hospital) when it opened. He was the last of the original Medical staff of Wake Medical center to retire and he was the last survivor of both staffs at Saint Agnes and Wake Medical Center.
Dr, Debnam wed the former Marjorie Boyd of Morristown Tennessee, the daughter of the late Dr. Miller Boyd and Mrs. Georgia Whitten Boyd on 12/31/1951. Mrs. Debnam was from a family of educators and met Dr. Debnam in Nashville when she attended Fisk University and he was at Meharry Medical College. Dr. and Mrs. Debnam relocated to Raleigh NC, where Dr. Debnam was already a member of the St. Agnes Hospital staff. They settled in the historic Roberts Parks neighborhood in the early 50's and were the parents of three daughters: Gwendolyn Yolande Debnam Morgan, a college professor of English who recently died in Atlanta Georgia and twin daughters, Marie Georgette Debnam, MD and Marjorie Lynnette Debnam, MD of Raleigh NC. Dr. Debnam was married to Mrs. Marjorie Debnam until her death in 2004. Dr. Debnam was a devoted husband and father as well as uncle for his numerous nieces and nephews.
Dr. Debnam was the recipient of many awards and was nationally recognized for his contributions to healthcare in 1977 when he was named Physician of the Year by the National Medical Association. Of all his many awards, this is one of the ones he is most proud of. Dr. Debnam is also a Michael Weeks award winner at Wakemed and in 2014, Dr. Debnam was inducted into the Raleigh Hall of fame. Dr, Debnam worked on a local, state and national level in physician organizations promoting healthcare and fighting health care disparities including LA Scruggs Medical Society, the Old North State Medical society and the National Medical association. My father's most recent project with the Old North state Medical society was a Smoking cessation project for teens.
Dr. Debnam worked tirelessly to promote higher education for Raleigh and the state of North Carolina. He was a Trustee at Shaw University since 1964 and until his 90's when he was made a Trustee emeritus. He helped raise money $ 5million for the renovation of historic Estey Hall. At one point, my father mortgaged the family home to help keep Shaw open. He was a living legend in terms of his work fundraising and supporting the school--his nickname was "Mr. Shaw" at one point. My father's efforts at Shaw have been rewarded with a rare honor: the Shaw University financial aid building was named George C. Debnam Hall in his honor. Dr.Debnam was also a trustee and trustee emeritus at North Carolina Central University for many years.
My father was also a member of social groups like the local chapter of Phi Beta Sigma and Sigma Phi Pi(also known as the Boule) and he also helped his wife, Raleigh Hall of Fame member Marjorie Boyd Debnam, with her program for high school African American young men, Friends of Distinction for many years. The Friends of Distinction had 800 of its members enter college with the vast majority graduating and leading productive lives. Dr. Debnam was also noted for his church work and was a deacon at both Martin Street Baptist Church and Christian Faith Baptist Church for decades and he spoke at many funerals, Men's day observances, Black History month.
Dr. Debnam was an amateur historian with special interests in Black History, World War II, musicology/hymnology and was also a published author--with books with complied sayings and facts including "Good Clean Humor"--a story/joke collection suitable for church.
George C. Debnam. MD was a self made man who worked his way through college, medical school and then gave 50 years of his life to taking care of God's children and gave back to the community tirelessly. He is survived by his daughters Marie Georgette Debnam, MD and Marjorie Lynnette Debnam, MD of Raleigh NC and numerous nieces and nephews, other family, neighbors, friend, church members and the Shaw University alumni family.
Dr. George C. Debnam, MD of Raleigh, NC departed this life on Thursday, January 19, 2023.
Lying in Repose: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM, Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at Thomas J. Boyd Chapel, Shaw University, 118 E. South Street, Raleigh, NC.
Public Viewing: 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM,Thursday, January 26, 2023 at Lea Funeral Home Chapel, 2500 Poole Road, Raleigh, NC.
Funeral Service: 12:00 PM, Friday, January 27, 2023 at Christian Faith Baptist Church, 509 Hilltop Drive, Raleigh, NC.
Omega Service: 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM preceding the visitation service at the church, The Brothers of the Eta Sigma Chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc will be conducting their Omega Service.
Visitation: 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM, preceding the funeral service at the church.
Interment: Carolina Biblical Gardens, Garner, NC.
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