Hardy Black, M.D. 1853-1924

Hardy took a long path to being a doctor in Waco, and overcame some tough circumstances. He was born near Huntsville to a country doctor and his wife. One night, the family was awakened by a knock at the door, and when Dr. Black answered, a bandit shot and killed him. Hardy was a boy who left school to find work and support his mom and sister. His jobs were many over the years, and one of the more interesting was as a trail driver, driving a herd of cattle from Texas to Montana, then returning for another.

Mostly self-educated, in his late 20s, Hardy began to dream of following the career path of his father. He approached the wealthy Major Duffield, who agreed to finance him opening a saloon in Round Rock, and Hardy served liquor over the bar every day for years. When his business excelled and he had saved enough money to pay for medical school, he sold the saloon and went to New Orleans to enter Tulane (the 15th oldest medical college in the country, founded in 1834). His roommate was Bob Brown, the son of a Waco physician, who sold him on Waco as a great place to live and work. He did an internship at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, then came to practice in Waco in 1890.

He quickly built one of the most popular and successful medical practices in town, and was well-liked by patients and physician colleagues. At any gathering of physicians, we was well-known for his hilariously dry Ole Olsen stories told in the Swedish-American dialect. He went on to serve as president of the Waco Medical Association, city physician under Mayor McCulloch, county physician, and U.S. government physician for the federal prisoners in the city.

In 1924, after 34 years of practice in Waco, someone knocked on his door at night, and asked him to make a house call, after which he drove home. The next morning, he was found to have passed away beside his car. He and his wife and their twins who died just after birth are buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Karen Cervenka Kemper, M.D.

When Karen moved to Waco 6 days before 9/11 (2001), she brought a wealth of experience and leadership from her 13 years of pediatric practice in Abilene. She came to join the Hillcrest Pediatrics team of Drs. Gamble, Barry and McDonald. Karen went to McMurry College in Abilene, then medical school at UTMB Galveston before doing her Pediatrics residency at Scott and White in Temple.

Karen started her physician leadership in Abilene, serving on county medical society and hospital boards and as a TMA delegate and specialty society leader, and has done the same and more in Waco. She was the first female president of the McLennan County Medical Society in 2006, and has often been voted a community favorite by the people of Waco. I have served on the MCMS board with her for 14 years, and often see her wisdom and experience Waco is fortunate to have.

She cares deeply about and comes alongside her patients, and is no stranger herself to adversity and suffering. In 1997, she had a terrible skiing accident and lost the use of her left leg and lived with pain. For nearly three years, she underwent rehab until she was finally able to fully recover shortly before coming to Waco to practice.

One of her interesting hobbies is gardening and planting unusual plants. Armenian cucumbers, blue shrimp plants, banana squash and purple spinach are the ones for this year. When not working or gardening or spending time with family or serving in her church, she and Martin, her husband of 47 years, enjoy spending time at their cabin in the San Juan Mountains in Southwestern Colorado.

How do you feel things are in Waco medicine today?

I think with the conglomeration of small hospitals into large corporate machines, we are losing the personal touch of medicine. I see patients who long for the “old fashioned” doctor who cared more about their patients than their lifestyles.

What do you hope to see happen in the future?

I think the next years are going to be some of the most miraculous and transforming years medicine has ever seen. With the mapping of the human genome and the understanding of “personalized” medicine based on our genetics, treatments will become more specific and beneficial with lessened side effects. Gene therapies will cure diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, inborn errors of metabolism, and cancers for which we now have little to offer. I think this is an enormous and exciting new frontier.


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