Sarah Beth Gettys, vice president of patient services, was one of the many who turned out to celebrate with Dr. Runas Powers on his final day at Russell Medical Center Thursday. | Alison James

Archived Story

Reception held to honor Powers

Published 11:35am Friday, November 16, 2012

A standing ovation and a round of “Happy retirement to you,” met Dr. Runas Powers as he entered the cafeteria at Russell Medical Center Thursday.

Nov. 15 was “Dr. Runas Powers Day,” as designated by Mayor Charles Shaw. It was also Powers’ last day at RMC.

Powers became Russell Hospital’s first African-American doctor in 1978. It was standing room only at his reception Thursday.

“He did so much for me that it’s just amazing,” said Cecil Tuck, who has been going to see Powers for 31 years. “I don’t think anybody else could have done the things that he did. He took care of my whole family. I don’t know what we’ll do without him.”

Tuck wasn’t the only one who sang the praises of Powers. From supervisors, to colleagues, to patients, Powers drew commendation from many.

“He was the most appreciative physician from any branch,” said Shelley James, director of radiology. “He was just always saying thank you for anything that we did. He was always appreciative of everyone. He never fussed.”

Powers shook hands and shared hugs with those who turned out to help him celebrate. He said he took the reception as a high compliment and that he was retiring with “mixed emotions.”

“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and things have changed so much,” Powers said. “It’s been a pleasure to have been a part of the change, and I can see continued progress.”

One of Powers’ patients, Earnestine Billups, said she knew Powers growing up, but it was his care for her mother that drew her attention.

“She was very sick, and he sent her to Montgomery,” Billups said. “He closed his office and went with her in the ambulance. Our family will never ever forget that. We love him, and I’ve used him since then.”

Sarah Beth Gettys, vice president of patient services, said she began working with Powers as an intensive care unit staff nurse, and he “is the same today as he was 30 years ago.”

“He has been one of those that was here when we needed him – we knew that Dr. Powers was the kind of guy that was always going to make a final round at 9 p.m.,” Gettys said. “He has just been a wonderful physician to work with. We hate to see him go, but we hope … he gets one good night’s sleep instead of getting called (to the hospital). It’s going to be hard to fill his shoes.

“This town has been very fortunate to have him – to have a physician of his caliber.”