Thursday, December 22, 2011


Dr. Leon Raphael Staton was a country doctor who practiced medicine in Clay County, NC almost four decades. He was a gentle, humble man who made house calls and delivered babies in their homes. He hardly charged anything, usually only a dollar. He gave free physicals to many students at Hayesville High School.

A highway dedication in his memory was held on Saturday, December 17, 2011 at the First Methodist Church in Hayesville, NC. The section of NC 69 from Cherry Road (State Road 1118) northward to US 64 in Clay County was named the Dr. Leon R. Staton Highway.

He was our family physician. When I was about 4 years old, I got the chicken pox. Daddy called Dr. Staton and he made a house call.

When Dr. Staton walked into the living room, I was lying on the couch with my doll. He knew I was a timid child.

"Is your doll sick, too? May I check her?" he asked.

He listened to the doll's heart with his stethoscope, took her pulse, and felt her forehead.

Then Dr. Staton asked if he could look at me. He asked me to stick out my tongue and say, "Augh." He knew how to make a shy child comfortable.

That was typical of the compassion he had for patients. We are fortunate he decided to practice medicine in our county.

Born in Hendersonville, NC, Dr. Staton attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received a medical degree at the University of Maryland. During his residency at Lynchburg Hospital in Virginia, he met and married Nancy Terrell, a registered nurse.

The couple had three children: Leon Terrell Staton, Patricia Staton Ledford, and Robert Howard (Butch) Staton.

Dr. Staton served in the United States Army Medical Corps five years. He also was camp doctor with the CCC's in Harriman, Tennessee.

He read in a magazine that Clay County planned to build a hospital. He and his family moved here in 1940. Although we never got a clinic in our county, the Statons loved the mountains and continued to live in Hayesville.

Dr. Staton served as advisor to the Clay County draft board free of charge. President John F. Kennedy awarded him a certificate for his twenty-five year's service.

Additionally, Dr. Staton served as Clay County Coroner from 1954 to his death in 1976.

It is fitting that the Dr. Leon R. Staton Highway was named for this dedicated physician.

Staton family and descendants, from left: Pat Staton Ledford, Kale Ledford, Terry Staton, Annette Staton, and Pam Staton.

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