BEAUFORT — Dr. John E. Way, a longtime surgeon from Beaufort, died Monday at Carteret General Hospital at the age of 100.
His two sons, John Way Jr. and Dr. Brady Way, remembered him being dedicated to his profession. “The man worked every day of his life,” said John Way Jr., adding that while Dr. Way had other hobbies, practicing medicine dominated his life.
Dr. Way was born Oct. 15, 1910, in Marshallberg to the late Brady and Minnie Way. He graduated from Beaufort High School in 1929 and UNC-Chapel Hill in 1934 before getting his medical degree from the University of Maryland.
He served in the 97th Evacuation Hospital Unit, along with his late wife, Martha, during World War II and participated in such historic events as D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. The two had to keep their marriage hidden, as couples weren’t allowed to serve in the same unit together, said Dr. Brady Way.
The unit also went into Germany following the war and was one of the first to assist survivors of the concentration camps.
John Way Jr. said his father would reflect on this period of his life, particularly some of the lighter moments.
“He and mother would chuckle under their breath about some of the funny things that went on,” he said.
He returned to Beaufort following the war, and for a period was the only surgeon in the county. “When he came back, it was him or nobody basically, from a surgery standpoint,” said Dr. Brady Way. He continued to practice in the county for more than 60 years.
Dr. Way was in impeccable health well into his 90s and he continued to fly and play golf for much of his life.
He was a sports fan and helped found the Little League in the county. He was also a big supporter of UNC sports teams, particularly the football team. The Carolina Alumni Review, a publication for UNC grads, stated in a recent article that Dr. Way had probably seen more Carolina football games than just about anyone else. He started watching games in the 1920s and had season tickets every year since his return to the area following the war, said Dr. Brady Way’s wife, Shirley.
“He was always a Tar Heels sports fan and a supporter of the university, too,” John Way Jr. said. “One of the last things he did was watch a basketball game.”
Medicine changed tremendously from the time Dr. Way began medical school – when penicillin had only just been discovered and its benefits were still unknown – to when he retired. But his family said Dr. Way’s attitude toward his patients never changed.
“He really took care and spent time with them. It was a hands-on approach,” said Dr. Brady Way.
John Way Jr. remembers seeing pounds of shrimp or collards being left at the house by some of the patients. “That was the way people who didn’t have any money would pay back then,” he said.
“He’s probably the only doctor there’s ever been who never looked at his books,” added Mrs. Way. “He never even asked if they could pay. He just loved doing medicine.”
See Page 3A for the full obituary on Dr. Way.