TALLADEGA -- For more than a quarter-century, Dr. James Weems Jr. cared for the children of Talladega County as a pediatrician at Talladega Pediatrics.
Weems, 64, passed away Tuesday at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His funeral will be Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Usrey Funeral Home with Dr. Stan Jett officiating.
The family will receive friends Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the funeral home; burial will follow at a later date at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.
Jett said he had known Weems for about 25 years, as “a friend, a patient and a colleague. His patients always came first with him, he loved them all and he was dedicated to providing them with the best care.
“And second, for him, was Citizens Hospital in Talladega, making sure that it would always be here and was always dedicated to providing excellent care as well. He served on a lot of committees and went to a lot of hospital meetings to make sure that Citizens Baptist and later Brookwood/Citizens would always be there to see to the needs of the community. He loved doing that and he loved always being in the know.”
Dr. Suzanne Cooper served on many of those committees with him.
“Jim and I came to Citizens the same year, in 1993, and I spent many nights in the C-section room with him,” she said. “He just adored his patients and his families. He always put his patients first. He was particular in how he cared for the little ones and he knew every detail as a physician, but he also had an administrative bent.
“Whenever something would come up about bylaws, rules, regulations, he was the one we would go to. None of us are marvelously fond of that sort of thing, but he knew all of that backwards and forwards. He was always the one we would turn to. He enjoyed that.
“If there was a question to ask, or a procedural issue came up, he knew what to do. He was top notch, and I think we all looked up to him for that. He’ll be a giant loss to this community.”
Cooper said Weems called her himself to let her know about his diagnosis just a few days before he passed.
“He spent Thursday, (Oct. 4), on the phone talking to everybody,” she said. “He already has his own funeral planned and organized. It’s so sad, he will be so, so sorely missed.”
Carla Estis was Weems’ practice manager. She said she talked to him every day for more than a decade.
“He was absolutely the most generous man I have ever known,” she said. “He truly cared more about his patients and their families and this community more than he did about his own life.
“But he was also really humorous and really original in his humor. He was generous, he was dedicated and he could always bring you out of a sad state. Whenever an employee needed something or was having a hard time or whatever, he would always be the first to take out his wallet, but then say that he didn’t want anybody to know it was him.
“Even in his last few days, I know he would have rather been at home, but he didn’t want to be a burden to his partner.”
She added, “He had a dark humor in a kind of way, an outrageous humor, but he was just hilarious. Even at the end, he insisted on ordering the flowers for his own funeral from his hospital bed. I said I could do that for him, but he said no, he’d always wanted to do that himself.
“Even at the end, he never lost his brightness or his wit. He was always an optimist. And he’s going to be missed by an awful lot of people.”
He is survived by his life partner, Roger Adams; his mother, Edith Cox Weems; his sisters, Michele Truitt (Jack) and Patricia Gourdouras (Lee), and several nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dr. James Weems Scholarship Fund at First Bank of Alabama.