MUSC student graduates 70 years after his grandfather

May 22, 2017

When Brice Reynolds enrolled in medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina four years ago, his grandfather gave him an odd gift: A human skeleton.

Ninety-four-year-old Wayne Brady, affectionately called “Poppy” by his grandchildren, kept the skeleton, an anatomical reference tool, in his office for decades. Brady is a physician himself, a retired orthopedic surgeon.

Reynolds, who graduated from MUSC on Friday morning exactly 70 years after his grandfather graduated from the same school, treasures his grandfather’s rough-and-tumble medical stories. But it wasn’t until he enrolled at MUSC that his grandfather began to tell him tales of his career.

For Brady, attending medical school in the throes of World War II was a markedly different experience than his millennial grandson’s. For six months during his schooling, MUSC shut down because of the war. So Brady found work in two emergency rooms at Columbia Hospital, now Palmetto Health Richland, one for white patients and one for black, his grandson said.

The Medical College Hospital is pictured in the right foreground of this 1955 photo, several years after Wayne Brady graduated. The vacant lot next the hospital is where the MUSC Children’s Hospital stands today. Roper Hospital is shown near the left-corner of the photo. (Waring Historical Library at MUSC)

The young Dr. Brady bought a bike to travel between the two wards. Later, after graduating from MUSC, he would sell his blood to earn his way through a medical internship in New Orleans. Brady said every generation of residents looks back on the one before through a different lens.

“I look back on the one before me as rather crude,” he said. “I’m sure the residents look back and think the same.”

Brady became a medical officer in the Navy in January 1949, the same year he met his wife, Billie Koon. When the Korean War began a year later, Brady began treating casualties.

On one occasion during his time as a Navy doctor, a routine operation was going badly on a nearby ship. The ship radioed to Brady’s vessel that they needed “anesthesia equipment and staff to operate.”

He responded they would be getting “six cans of ether and myself” and cabled to the other ship to help.

Brice Reynolds graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina on Friday, 70 years after his grandfather, Wayne Brady, graduated from the same school. Brady is pictured here during his time as a medical officer in the Navy. Provided.

Now Reynolds cherishes these accounts from his grandfather. But when he was growing up, his grandmother did most of the talking. Brice said he always respected his grandfather, but never understood much about him.

The two began to have in-depth conversations when Brice chose the medical field.

“Suddenly we had something to talk about,” he said.

Reynold’s grandmother said even at a young age, the 27-year-old was uncommonly engaged in the world around him. She remembers him hanging a poster of Einstein on the wall in his childhood bedroom.

“Science has always been somewhere in the back of that child’s mind,” she said.

Because of medical issues, Reynolds’ grandparents couldn’t make it to his graduation. But when they saw him for Mother’s Day, they gave him a graduation gift: A medical doll he remembers sitting on his grandfather’s desk. The porcelain figure of a lady reclining was used in the 1800s so that modest women could point out their ailments without undressing. Reynolds said it hardly looks like a medical tool.

“I’ll probably put it on my desk just like Poppy,” said Reynolds, who will soon start his residency training in psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

His grandmother said they are proud to see Reynolds following in the footsteps of his father, who is a pediatrician, and his grandfather. But she said they never pushed him to pursue medicine. “That was all his idea,” she said.

“Whatever you want to be,” she said she told her grandchildren. “Work as hard as you can and that would please me.”