The legacy of Portal’s Leila Alice Daughtry Denmark will be honored yet again, this time with the naming of Forsyth County’s sixth high school.
Thursday night, the northeast Georgia county’s Board of Education voted on the new name, Denmark High School, after receiving input from the community and the school naming committee. The school, which will be located across from where Denmark closed her last medical office, is expected to open in 2018.
The Bulloch County native was one of Georgia’s first women pediatricians and she passed away in 2012 as the fourth oldest person in the world at the time of her death at the age of 114, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Denmark was born on a farm near Portal on Feb. 1, 1898 where she was the third of 12 children born to Elerbee and Alice Cornelia. Dr. Denmark completed high school at the First District A and M in Statesboro.
In 1922, Denmark graduated from Bessie Tift College in Forsyth, Ga., with an A.B. degree. Two years later she became engaged to John Eustace Denmark, from her home county, and later enrolled at Mercer College where she practiced chemistry and physics.
After her years at Mercer College, Denmark attended the Medical College of Georgia, where she became only the third woman in Georgia to graduate with a Doctor of Medicine Degree in 1928.
After marrying Mr. Denmark, she began interning at Grady Hospital in Atlanta at the Central Presbyterian Church Baby Clinic.
When the Henrietta Egleston Hospital for children opened, Denmark became the hospital’s first resident and also admitted its first patient into what is now known as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She opened her pediatrics practice in her Atlanta home in 1931.
In 1932, Denmark worked alongside researchers at Emory University, where she assisted in developing a successful vaccination for whooping cough. Dr. Denmark was later recognized as Atlanta’s Woman of the Year in 1953 and continued practicing until her retirement in 2001 at the age of 103.
Dr. Denmark received many awards during her lifetime, including the Shining Light Award from Atlanta Gas Light Company, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Fisher Award for exceptional research for whooping cough.
In the early 1970s, Denmark published her book “Every Child Should Have a Chance,” in which she shared her ideas on childhood care.
The school naming committee at Forsyth County conducted an online poll to name the school. More than 6,000 votes were collected, with Denmark receiving the most votes.