Cover photo for Dr. O. Wytch Stubbs, Jr.'s Obituary
Dr. O. Wytch Stubbs, Jr. Profile Photo
1931 Dr. O. Wytch 2020

Dr. O. Wytch Stubbs, Jr.

April 3, 1931 — January 29, 2020

Olan Wytch Stubbs, Jr., died of complications from Parkinson’s disease at the age of 88 on January 29, 2020, surrounded by his family in the Decatur home of his daughter and her husband, Mary and Don Rigger, where he has resided since 2019.

Wytch was known by many names - Wytch, Jr., to all who grew up with him, Dad to his children, granddaddy to his beloved grandchildren, doctor to his patients, Wytch to his many friends and “Witch” to folks he did not know well. (His name is pronounced like “white” except with a “ch” sound at the end instead of a “t” sound.) There was one name, however, that he treasured above all the rest: husband, for his greatest joy and source of his greatest strength was his wife, Jo Anne, to whom he was married for more than 67 years.

Wytch said that his good luck began with his birth on April 3, 1931, to his two loving parents, Elma and Wytch Stubbs, and his caring older sister, Dorothy Stubbs Hollingsworth. He spent his boyhood in an idyllic setting, swimming, hunting and playing across the creeks, farms and forests of Milhaven. He was a good student, finishing as valedictorian of his class in 1948.

Wytch then went to college at Emory University. While there, the young country boy went to a square dance at Emory looking for love - as it turned out, in all the right places. For, it was at that dance that he encountered Jo Anne Davis. He fell quickly and deeply in love. Three months after Wytch graduated from Emory University, on August 23, 1952, he and Jo Anne were married in Jo Anne’s hometown of Orlando. Their first born, Joseph Wytch Stubbs, arrived twelve months later in August of 1953.

Wytch then attended Emory Candler School of Theology from which he graduated in 1955 and was ordained as a minister in the Methodist Church. Following his graduation from Candler, Wytch became Conference Director of Youth Work for the South Georgia Conference of the Methodist Church. Two years later, he was appointed pastor of the Martha Bowman Memorial Methodist Church in Macon.

It was not all work and no play for the young couple. During their time in Macon, Wytch and Jo Anne added to their brood, having Susan Anne Stubbs (b. and d. July 5, 1955), Alexander Thomas Stubbs, Cynthia Marie Stubbs and Mary Sanders Stubbs.

A few scant weeks after the birth of Mary in 1961, Wytch elected to leave the ministry. With four young children in tow and not much money, but with the complete support of Jo Anne, he returned to Emory where he spent a year taking all of the pre-med coursework needed to attend medical school. He was then admitted to Emory School of Medicine from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1966. While in medical school, Wytch and Jo Anne had their last child, daughter Katherine Victoria Stubbs in 1965.

While Wytch labored in the library, lab and clinics, Jo Anne shouldered the bigger load of managing the schooling, sports teams, calendars, feeding and care of five children. Crammed into an apartment where Jo Anne and Wytch slept on a fold-out couch every night, with no dishwasher for most of the time, she powered through her exhausting load of responsibilities without complaint. When Wytch came home from his labors, he always was greeted with a passionate kiss and long hug from his wife, reflecting the magnetic love they held for each other throughout Wytch’s life.

Following medical school and his internship, Wytch established a family medical practice in DeKalb County. He loved his patients deeply and felt privileged to provide care to them. While in practice, he was associated with Drs. G. R. Jones, Joe Arnold and Tim Almeroth. In 1988, with great reluctance because of his love of his patients, Wytch left his practice and became Medical Director at DeKalb Medical Center, a position he held until his retirement in 1996.

During his years of practice he also was clinical associate professor of medicine in the Emory School of Medicine, medical director of the Scottdale Free Medical Clinic, chief of the department of family practice at DeKalb Medical Center, president of the DeKalb Medical Society, a member of the Emory Board of Trustees, president of the Emory Medical Alumni Association, and president of the Emory Alumni Association.

He received a number of honors including the Emory Medal, the DeKalb Medical Society’s Julius McCurdy Citizenship Award, the DeKalb County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Citizenship Award, the Medical Association of Georgia’s A. H. Robbins Community Service Award, and the American Heart Association’s Mr. DeKalb Award. The auditorium in the DeKalb Medical Professional Building is named “The O. Wytch Stubbs, Jr., MD Auditorium.”

Following his retirement in 1996, Wytch and Jo Anne moved to their beloved cabin on Lake Hartwell. In 2005 they moved back to Avondale Estates to be closer to their children. While in retirement Wytch enjoyed writing the family history in The Braided Cord, Jo Anne’s recipes in Fun in the Kitchen, and the history of DeKalb Medical Center in The DeKalb Medical Story: From Berry Patch to Healthcare System 1957 to 2007.

Wytch is survived by his beloved wife of 67 years, Jo Anne Davis Stubbs; their two sons, Joe (Annabelle) Stubbs and Tom (Lyn) Stubbs, and their three daughters, Cindy (Ben) Goss, Mary (Don) Rigger, and Kate (Erik) Lesser. He is also survived by fourteen grandchildren: Katherine Stubbs (Warren) Stewart, Laura Stubbs (Clifton) Fay, Emily Stubbs, Justin Stubbs, Connor Stubbs, Sarah Stubbs, Cullen Goss, Samantha Goss, Madison Rigger (Wesley) Hatfield, Wytch (Alli) Rigger, Benjamin Rigger, Hannah Lesser, Isaac Lesser, and Penelope Lesser, and two step-grandchildren, Eirini Longini and Luca Longini. He has also been blessed with five great grandchildren: Mary Thwaite Stewart, Warren Stewart, Jr., Sanders Stewart, and Annabelle and Lucile Fay. His sister, Dorothy Hollingsworth of Chapel Hill, NC, also survives him, along with two of her daughters, Jane Hollingsworth (Tom Miller) and Melissa (Mike) Hollingsworth McCoy. (Dot’s daughter, Amanda Hollingsworth, died in 2017, and Dot’s husband, Hank Hollingsworth, and the father of their three beautiful children, died in 1987.) Wytch is also survived by his sister-in-law, Betty Marie (Davis) Stewart, and her four wonderful children, nephews Scott (Mary Anne) Stewart, Davis (Kaye) Stewart, and James (Missy) Stewart, as well as his niece, Victoria Stewart. (Betty Marie’s kind husband, Jim Stewart, the loving father to these children, passed away in 2000.) The Stewart and Stubbs families developed a decades-long tradition of vacationing together at New Smyrna Beach in Florida during the 1990s and 2000s. The delicious bottomless breakfasts Wytch and Jo Anne fed the Stubbs and Stewart clans every morning during those vacations single-handedly doubled the number of family members on statins.

Wytch’s Parkinson’s disease was almost assuredly caused by the decision of Sangamo Electric Company in Pickens, South Carolina, a subsidiary of the international manufacturer, Schlumberger Ltd., to dump thousands of tons of PCBs into the ground and creeks that fed into Lake Hartwell. PCBs never go away and the ones dumped by Sangamo became lodged in the fat and other parts of the hybrid bass in Hartwell and other fish that Wytch caught and loved to eat. Researchers at Wytch’s beloved Emory University and elsewhere have linked PCBs to the very kind of Parkinson’s that caused Wytch’s death and that his bride, Jo Anne, now has. In light of the likely cause of his death, he asked that his friends and family remember that the impact of pollutants on families and whole communities can be devastating.

Wytch was grateful for the love, opportunities and other gifts that came his way in life. At his request, there will only be a private service at the site of his and Jo Anne’s daughter’s, Susan’s, grave, Bethel Brick United Methodist Church in Girard, Screven County, Georgia, on Saturday, February 1, 2020. Any donations in his memory may be directed to the DeKalb Medical Foundation, 2701 North Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA 30033 (404-501-5956), or to a charity of the donor’s choosing. Wytch also requested that no public memorial service be held. However, for far from the first time but with their hearts full of love, his children told this wise, beautiful man that they would not abide by his desires. In the coming months, a memorial service will be organized where all of the people touched by Wytch’s amazing life will have a chance to gather.

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