Rain all 166 miles of drive from Birmingham to Red Level

Red Level, Alabama sign

US Post Office in Red Level, Alabama

Red Level City Hall

Mike Sawyer in Red Level City Hall

Sorting papers regarding Dr. Luther one hour before city council meeting

City Clerk Beverly Rogers

Mayor Mike Purnell on right and former Mayor Mike Sawyer on left

Red Level, Alabama agenda January 17, 2006

Mayor Mike Purnell holds the sign of the Terry Memorial Clinic in honor of James Edward Terry, M.D., Erected by the people in 1955.

Picture of Red Level citizens in 1930


Mike Sawyer attended the Red Level, Alabama city council meeting on January 17, 2006 to encourage Mayor Mike Purnell and the city council members: Sybil Still, Wayne Mitchell, James McCloskey, Jerry Parker, and Joseph Bradley (not present) to officially recognize Dr. Luther L. Terry.

Mike Sawyer stated that his father Atlas M. Sawyer died on January 13, 1964 only two days after US Surgeon General Luther L. Terry made his public declaration that smoking was harmful to your heatlh.

Sawyer expressed

1. He was not there to tell them what to do, but to help if needed.

2. Dr. Terry was internationally honored.

Sawyer  gave out letters of recommendation  from the health community from California, Florida, and South Africa.

Sawyer asked the legislative group if the US had ever honored Dr. Terry with a US Postal Stamp in his name, no one knew.

Luther Leonidas Terry (1961-1965)

Luther Leonidas Terry was born on September 15, 1911 in Red Level, Alabama. He earned a B.S. degree at Birmingham Southern University in 1931, followed by an M.D. degree at Tulane University in 1935. After interning at the Hillman Hospital in Birmingham and serving a residency in Cleveland Hospitals, Terry moved to Washington University in St. Louis in 1938 for an internship in pathology. The following year, he became an instructor at that institution, and subsequently served as instructor and assistant professor of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Texas in Galveston from 1940 to 1942.

The landmark Surgeon General's report on smoking and health stimulated a greatly increased concern about tobacco on the part of the American public and government policymakers and led to a broad-based anti-smoking campaign. It also motivated the tobacco industry to intensify its efforts to question the scientific evidence linking smoking and disease. The report was also responsible for the passage of the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965, which, among other things, mandated the familiar Surgeon General's health warnings on cigarette packages.

Luther Terry himself continued to play a leading role in the campaign against smoking after leaving the post of Surgeon General, which he occupied through October 1, 1965. He chaired the National Interagency Council on Smoking and Health, a coalition of government agencies and nongovernment organizations, from 1967 to 1969, and served as a consultant to groups such as the American Cancer Society. Terry helped to obtain a ban on cigarette advertisements on radio and television in 1971. Late in his life he led the effort to eliminate smoking from the workplace.

Terry's last years were spent as Corporate Vice President for Medical Affairs for ARA Services of Philadelphia (1980-1983) and then as a consultant. He died on March 29, 1985 in Philadelphia.


January 19, 2006
Terry gave U.S. smokers first warning

By Alvin Benn
Montgomery Advertiser

RED LEVEL -- Other than a plaque on a wall of Red Level High School, this little Covington County community has no other reminder of a local boy who became world famous for his efforts to stop people from smoking.

During his tenure as surgeon general of the United States, Dr. Luther Leonidas Terry issued findings on Jan. 11, 1964, that represented a landmark medical moment.

Known as the Surgeon General's Report, it stressed the dangers of nicotine and was supported by statistics showing the number of Americans who died as a result of smoking.

About a year after Terry died of a heart attack in 1985, the people of Red Level gathered inside the high school to honor his memory by unveiling the plaque, which lists his accomplishments.

Nothing more has been done in the community to salute him since then, but a former mayor of Midland City has launched an effort to do more to remember Terry in the town where he was born and raised.

Mike Sawyer, who now lives in Birmingham, said he wants a "significant" monument or marker erected in Red Level to honor Terry.

"Our country is so unbalanced in its priorities," said Sawyer, who served as mayor of Midland City from 1984 to 1988. "We honor football players on billboards in their hometowns, but not someone as important as Dr. Terry in the town where he was born."

Sawyer said his father, Atlas, died of emphysema Jan. 13, 1964 -- two days after Terry's report was issued. He said his father's death and the report are forever linked "and I want to do something to honor Dr. Terry."

Red Level Mayor Mike Purnell, who said he is a "light smoker," indicated Thursday that he welcomes Sawyer's efforts and will support them. He made it clear, however, that funding could be a problem.

"It's a grand thing to honor (Terry) if we can find somebody to pay for it," said Purnell.

Asked how many other Red Level residents had become as famous as Terry, the mayor said: "He's it." The town is home to 556 people.

Sawyer said he plans to be in Red Level on Tuesday to ask the city council for special recognition of a man who grew up in a medical family and became world renowned.

Born in 1911, Terry quickly learned about the life of a country doctor. He'd often accompany his father, Dr. James Edward Terry, to the doctor's pharmacy and clinic. It wasn't unusual for him to drive his dad to the homes of patients in the family's Model A Ford.

After earning a degree from Birmingham Southern in 1931, Terry got a medical degree from Tulane University and, by 1942, had become a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Texas at Galveston.

Not long after President Kennedy selected him as Surgeon General in 1961, Terry went to work on warning Americans on the hazards of smoking.

He established the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health and, on Jan. 11, 1964, "Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States" was released.

After he left office, Terry continued his efforts by becoming chairman of the National Interagency Council on Smoking and Health.

In addition to the plaque at Red Level High School, Terry also has been inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor. He has received many honorary degrees from universities around the country, including Birmingham Southern, which gave him an honorary law degree.



Please return home with a healthy heart


Hit Counter