Dr.Leila Alice Denmark was born February 1, 1898 in Georgia as the 3rd of 12 children.
Leila first wanted to become a teacher and attended Tift College in Forsyth, Georgia. However, when her diplomat boyfriend and future husband John Denmark was posted to Java in the Dutch Indies by the U.S. State Department, a post that did not allow spouses, Leila stayed behind and made a decision that would allow her to make a difference herself.
Leila attended the Medical College of Georgia, graduating as the only female in the class of 1928. John was back in the states by then, and they married soon after her graduation.
Following her wedding, she accepted a residency at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
Upon receiving her doctoral degree for physicians (MD) Leila became the first physician on staff at Henrietta Eggleston Hospital, the pediatric hospital at Emory University.
As a private practitioner, Leila also saw patients in a clinic she set up within her home.
Leila followed her calling and devoted a substantial amount of her time to charity.
Leila was among the first doctors to object to cigarette smoking around children, and fought against drug use among pregnant women. She believed that drinking cow’s milk was harmful, and that children and adults should eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juices. Leila also believed in drinking only water.
In the 1930’s, Leila was the co-developer of the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, for which she was awarded the Fisher Prize in 1935.
In 1971, Leila wrote a child-rearing book titled Every Child Should Have a Chance.
Her healthy habits, and caring heart allowed Leila to become the world’s oldest living practicing pediatrician.
On her 100th birthday February 1, 1998, Leila refused cake because there was too much sugar in it.
On March 9, 2000, the Georgia General Assembly honored Leila Denmark.
When Leila refused birthday cake again on her 103rd birthday, she explained that she had not had any food with sugar (other than natural sugar in fruit etc.) in over 70 years.
Leila finally retired in May of 2001 at the age of 103. Instead of taking it easy, Leila wrote a second book with Madia Bowman titled “Dr. Denmark Said It! Advice for Mothers from American’s Most Experienced Pediatrician.”
Leila remained in Alpharetta, Georgia until 2004 when she moved to Athens, Georgia to live with her only child, Mary.
On February 1, 2008, Leila celebrated her 110th birthday, officially becoming a super-centenarian.
According to her daughter, Leila’s health deteriorated severely in the autumn of 2008 but later improved as she neared her 111th birthday.
Then on December 10, 2011, at the age of 113 years and 312 days, Leila became one of the 100 oldest people ever. Now that is a top 100 worth living for.
When Leila died April 1, 2012 at the age of 114, she was the 4th oldest verified living person in the world and the 3rd oldest verified living person in the United States.
Now WE know em