William Lyles Box (1882-1958). Dr. Box was born in the Bedford Community near Vernon. In an attempt to save enough money to go to medical school, he taught school at Bedford, finally giving up on this idea, he talked a Columbus, Mississippi banker into lending him money for medical school. He then attended the University of Alabama Medical School at Mobile. He graduated from medical school in a suit of clothes that cost him $6.00.
In 1906, Dr. Box married Josephine Lillian Woods ( 1888-1976) of the Shiloh Community in Lamar County. She was the daughter of Dr. Thomas Bailey Woods and Jane Elizabeth McCrary Woods. Her father was a country doctor so she was familiar with the lifestyle.
Practicing medicine as a country doctor wasn’t easy, roads were either very bad or didn’t exist. At first he had only a horse and saddlebags. Later he added a cart, then a buggy, later a Model “T”, then a larger automobile. In the early days, Dr. Box often came home only long enough to change horses. A lap robe and lantern were necessary items.
Dr. Box’s wife “Miss Josie” went with him on calls in all kinds of weather, at all hours and into all types of homes. People that couldn’t pay received treatment and medicine just as if they had money. Dr. and Mrs. Box were known to supply food as well as clothing to families in need. While Dr. Box would be giving medicine to the sick, his wife would be offering words of encouragement to concerned family members. She was a wonderful helpmate and always tried to ease any hardship that she could for her husband.
Dr. Box practiced medicine for 53 years. In 1951, the townspeople of Vernon honored Dr. Box for his service with a testimonial dinner. Dr. J. M. Roberts was also honored on this night. In her tribute to the two doctors, Mrs. Lillie Mae Box said “ they not only cared for our ills, but they brought joy and cheers into our homes”. It has been said that Dr. Box’s jokes and stories did as much good for the sick as his medicine.
Dr. and Mrs. Box had two sons, Billy Burke and Joe. Dr. Box died in 1958 and Mrs. Box died in 1976. They are both buried in the New Hope Cemetery. Their grandson, W. C. Box who is a physician in Sulligent today is respected and possesses that concern for the people of Lamar County just as his granddaddy and grandmother did years ago. I know that they would be proud. Sources of information for this article were Dr. & Mrs. Box’s granddaughter, Mrs. Sarah Jo Spearman, and the December 2, 1951 issue of The Commercial Dispatch.