Brookhaven’s Dr. A. L. Lott ‘just wanted to help people’

Published 9:57 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017

It would have been a tad more fitting if the triangle slab that holds the Dr. Albert L. Lott Historical Marker was heart-shaped instead.

After all, Dr. Lott, who died in 1993, loved people and Brookhaven almost as much as he loved being a doctor. Those who knew him say he had a heart for the community.

On Wednesday, dozens of people gathered next to the triangle of Old Brook Road and Gulledge and South First streets in the It’ly neighborhood — just across the street from Lott’s home church, Bethel A.M.E. — for the unveiling of the marker.

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Dr. Braxter Irby, the only physician remaining at King’s Daughters Medical Center who practiced alongside Lott, spoke at the dedication.

Irby met Lott in June 1977. Lott was the first black doctor on staff at the hospital, coming on board soon after receiving his medical degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I was welcomed by the staff, but none so warmly as Dr. Lott,” he said.

Irby said Lott was a “warm and gentle man and a fine physician” who referred patients to him.

“Many, many times he took care of patients and expected nothing in return,” he said. “He didn’t care if he got paid or not. He just wanted to help the people. My life has been better for knowing Dr. Lott.”

Dexter Holloway, the assistant executive director of the Workforce and Economic Development Council for the Mississippi Community College Board and a member of the Alexander High School Legacy committee, said Lott was “way more than a medical doctor” to the people of Brookhaven.

Born to Lillie and Jessie Lott in 1921, Lott grew up in the Depression era. He graduated at 16 with high honors in 1937 to start his premed studies at Alcorn. He received his bachelor’s degree four years later. After graduation, he was in only the second class that accepted blacks into the Engineering Officers Training School in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He graduated medical school in 1950 and came back to Brookhaven to work.

Holloway said Lott could have gone anywhere after he earned his medical degree.

“But Dr. Lott believed in this community so much, he came home,” he said. “He chose to come back home. That says a lot about this community.”

Holloway, an Alcorn graduate, said Lott often sent his car to Alcorn on Friday afternoons to bring students home for the weekend. He’d send them back to school on Monday mornings.

Lott’s medical office used to be located down the street from the site of the marker. His home was nearby as well.

Holloway joked about the doctor’s “satellite” medical office for after-hours visits.

“Dr. Lott made house calls, but you had to come to his house,” he said. “Shots were $5. Didn’t matter what kind of shot. It was $5.”

He loved athletics and served as team doctor for several schools’ football programs.

As a charter member and chairman of the Alcorn State University Foundation and a charter member of the Lincoln County Alcorn State University Alumni Association and Booster Club, Lott would often get free tickets to football games.

He’d give tickets to Holloway to give away so it didn’t look like they were coming from him.

Holloway said Lott was a humble person who didn’t like to boast.

In 1992, Alcorn renamed a 79-room dormitory after Lott. In 1993, he was inducted into the Alcorn Hall of Honor. He died Dec. 20 that same year and is buried in Carver Heights Cemetery.

The marker was unveiled by Marsha Fairman, retired deputy city clerk for Brookhaven, and her husband, Jerry.

Fairman’s mother and Lott’s mother were sisters. Though they were cousins, she called Lott “Brother.”

She lives in Brookhaven now, but when she was younger she stayed in Chicago. She recalled visiting her cousin and hearing someone knock on the door late at night. She was shocked that patients would come to his home for medical care.

“We don’t even know where our doctor lives in Chicago,” she said.

Fairman said their family has seen seven doctors since Lott paved the way.

Lott was a member of numerous civic, social and professional organizations, serving on several boards. Holloway said Lott was the first black man to serve on the Brookhaven Public School Board. He served for 15 years, three of those as president. He racked up awards, honors and resolutions and was a frequently-requested speaker at events.

Lott was a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church, Alcorn State University National Alumni Association, the Merry Medical Alumni Association, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Elks, American Association of Workers for the Blind, Mississippi School Board Association, Mississippi Medical and Dental Association, Technical Advisory Committee of the Mississippi Medical Commission and the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

The Dr. Albert L. Lott Historical Marker is the sixth historical marker installed in the last eight years, said Brookhaven Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan.

The Lincoln County  Historical and Genealogical Society researches the recipient and sends the information to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, which meets twice a year. They approve the wording, then the marker is crafted and shipped to be installed. Sullivan said the markers, which cost around $1,800 to $2,000, are budgeted by the city.

Other markers are:

• The Coffee Pot on South First Street. Built in 1931, it was Brookhaven’s first drive-in restaurant. The two-story stucco building features a large metal coffee pot on top of the roof.

• Old Brook, an area that was originally Brookhaven. The marker is located at Dale Trail and South First Street.

• Rosehill Cemetery on East Monticello Street.

• Temple B’Nai Sholom, the Jewish synagogue that is now home to the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Society.

• The Pearlhaven area on Main Street. The marker is located by Bicentennial Park.