By Michael Howlett Staff Writer
January 25, 2014
Hillsville Town Council has named the late Dr. Joseph H. Early, Jr. its first Citizen of the Month for 2014. Early, who died on April 13, 2003, was named by Mayor Greg Crowder during the council’s Jan. 13 meeting.
During the next 11 months other citizens will be chosen and in December a Citizen of the Year will be announced.
Crowder described Early as “a man that was in my life from the time I was born.”
“This man was one of the biggest contributors of economic development of his time and still ranks at the top of the charts for all developers,” he said.
Crowder added that Early “is responsible or played a very big part” in numerous “business and civic accomplishments,” including Aunt Bea’s Restaurant, Advance Auto, the Bank of Carroll (now BB&T), the ABC store, Cranberry Apartments, the Carroll Wellness Center and Lee’s Carpet (now Mohawk). In addition, Early served as president of the Virginia Medical Society, was the Twin County Airport manager for 25 years and served two years on town council.
“This was just a small part of what he did for the citizens of Hillsville,” continued Crowder. “He was a doctor, not just any doctor, but one like no other. As I said earlier, I knew him since I was a baby. He took care of me and many citizens of Hillsville with a rough voice I can still hear. He came to my house when I broke my leg and to see my grandparents when they were sick.
This was nothing new for him to come to the aide of the elderly and sick with their medicines and a nice home checkup. He was the true description of a real physician. It is with great pride and admiration of a great man that I, Mayor Gregory Crowder, chose the first Citizen of the Month, Doctor Joseph Early.”
Early attended Roanoke College, then transferred to Emory & Henry College under the V12 Program at the outbreak of World War II before graduating from the George Washington University School of Medicine in 1948. After interning at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda Md., he opened his practice in Hillsville in 1949. However, Early was called to serve as a Naval physician (1953-55) during the Korean War. He then returned to Hillsville and served local citizens until retiring in 1992.