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  • Writer's pictureDiana McDaniel Hampo

A Hot Springs Miracle

A long time ago, My grandfather, Dr. Jack Stell, was a surgeon at St. Joseph's on Whittington Avenue in Hot Springs. He was a good Baptist boy who studied at Ouachita Baptist University, then went to medical school at Tulane. He started practicing in Hot Springs in 1919 and died in the early 1950s, of Parkinson's disease .

Every time I went to St. Joseph's Hospital, when I was a little girl, in the 1960s, old nuns, who were nurses, always found me in their swishing black habits. With my mother's permission, the nuns lured me into one of the offices with candy.

The older Sisters wanted to tell me stories about my grandfather, Daddy Jack, who died before I was born.

The nurses and Daddy Jack, I think had a profound and unique relationship. The nuns loved and respected him. Dr. Stell loved and respected the sisters. But they were very Catholic and he was very Baptist and times were different in the United States back then.

One story the Sisters ALWAYS told me took place in the early 40s. So many Arkansas

surgeons were part of the war effort and there was a shortage doctors. Dr. Jack Stell, Daddy Jack, was too old to enlist and he had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's.

There was no treatment to speak of then, I believe his doctor told him a shot of whiskey in the evening might help.

A talented surgeon with Parkinson's disease at a time when there was an acute shortage of doctors and surgeons, it was problematic.

The nuns, in their swooshing black habits would tell me they desperately need Dr. Stell to continue to perform surgeries. His hand tremors were obvious but for eight months, before WWII ended and the doctors and surgeons were able to come home, Dr. Jack Stell and his nuns would hold hands in the St. Joseph's operating room and pray. All together they prayed as Catholic Sisters and Baptist Believers. And the trembling stopped. Daddy Jack was able to perform surgeries. They were able to save lives on Whittington Avenue.

If you enjoyed this story I hope you'll read other at

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