Birth Date: March 16, 1944Death Date: October 5, 2018
Dr. John Overton Gayden, husband, father, grandfather, mentor and friend to many, died on October 5, 2018 at the age of 74 after a long struggle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Known as “Jack” to everyone who loved him, meaning nearly everyone who met him, he was born in Maxwell Field, Alabama on March 16, 1944, the fourth of five children born to Anne Dickinson and Hamilton Virgil Gayden.
He grew up in Nashville, riding horses at Travelers Rest and playing at the Governor’s Mansion with a young Bob Clement. He spent many summers at Camp Hy-Lake with his brothers, where at a young age he was taught to appreciate and be a good steward to God’s creation, a passion that stayed with him for the rest of his life.
He graduated from Peabody Demonstration School in 1962. A star basketball player and member of that school’s “1,000 Point Club,” Jack would go on to play basketball for the University of Mississippi, where he majored in Biology and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
In 1964, he married, Dixie Douglas, of Nashville, TN, and after graduating college, he worked for her father’s company, Dixie Wire, from 1966-1968.
He attended medical school at the University of Tennessee from 1968-1971, with an internship at the University of Tennessee and Baptist Memorial Hospital from 71-72 and a residency at the University of Tennessee from 72-75.
From 1975-1977, he served as a Major in the medical unit at Ireland Army Health Clinic in Fort Knox, Kentucky, then returned to Memphis to join the medical practice, Maury, Adkins, Graves, and Sanford, until 1985 when he and Dr. Henry Leigh Adkins – with help of Robert Burns and ten loyal employees – started Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association, PC. Under his direction, the small practice expanded to include four locations, twenty-seven providers, and established offices near every labor and delivery unit in the East, North/Bartlett, Germantown, and Southaven markets. It is now the largest private provider of women’s healthcare in the Mid-South.
In 1982, he married Dr. Evelyn “Lynn” Wilkerson, of Memphis, TN. They remained together for thirty-six years.
Throughout his life, his passion for the outdoors only grew. An avid hunter and conservationist, he spent many early mornings at Five Lakes Hunting Club. He was a life member of Ducks Unlimited and Shikar Safari Club and even helped publish an outdoors magazine, “Waterfowler’s World.”
For years, he served as a board member on the Tennessee Wildlife Federation and was voted Chairman in 2013, changing the nature of the position from a largely ceremonial role to one that propelled the organization forward, both in reputation and in capacity to affect change. His leadership facilitated the Federation reclaiming its title as the leading conservation organization in Tennessee.
Living life for others is what drove “Doc” to become a physician. He loved and practiced medicine until health issues forced his retirement. Thousands of babies were brought into the world by his hands, a world made better by him being in it.
He joined the Sunrise Prayer Group in recent years, and it brought him closer to God. In his retirement letter to his patients, he summed up his outlook succinctly: “Life is a gift, and what you do with it is what you give back and ask for nothing in return.”
We would like to thank the family of the organ donor, whose loss gave “Doc” six more years of life while asking for nothing in return. We will always cherish those years.
His brother, William “Dick” Gayden, preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife, Lynn; his four sons, John Overton Jr., Richard Douglas (Rebecca), Henry Dickinson (Catherine), and Walker Bolton Gayden; his two granddaughters, Timberlynn and Dixie Gayden; and his four remaining siblings, Judge Hamilton “Kip” Gayden, MacGavock “Mac” Gayden, Joseph “Joe” Gayden, and Ida Ezell.
A service will be held on Saturday, October 27 at 11 a.m. at at Second Presbyterian Church, 4055 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN. 38111. Visitation will be held from 9-11 a.m. at the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to Tennessee Wildlife Federation, 300 Orlando Ave, Nashville, TN. 37209, or a charity of your choice.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery, 5668 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38119 (901) 767-8930. “Celebrating Life… Behind the Stone Wall”.