Some of Tom Roper's earliest memories include unusual baby sitters and late-night drives down dark roads.

Early in her career, his mother, longtime Bullard physician Dr. Marjorie Roper, often made house calls. The demands of her job required quick action, and Tom would sometimes have to tag along.

"This lady was telling me that they called (my mother) out to deliver a baby," he said. "She took me with her and while she was attending to this woman having this baby, the woman's mother was taking care of me. Many, many a night I remember riding these backcountry roads."

Dr. Roper's commitment to medicine and people spanned more than 60 years. Her care and compassion touched thousands, and her decision to go to medical


IF YOU GO: A visitation for Dr. Marjorie Roper will take place from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 204 S. Rather St., Bullard, followed by her funeral at 3 p.m. A graveside service will follow.

school in the '40s made her a pioneer for other women.

On Wednesday, Dr. Roper died in Bullard at the same home where she was born. She was 96.

"Anybody who met her walked away feeling better about themselves," Pam Frederick, mayor of Bullard, said. "She is leaving a legacy that we won't see another person create (in Bullard) in my lifetime."

Dr. Roper graduated from Bullard High School in 1937. She went on to study pre-medicine at Tyler Junior College and graduate from the University of Texas in Austin — where she said there were only three other women in her class.

She graduated from medical school in Galveston in 1943 and later completed a very impactful internship at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

In a 2009 Tyler Morning Telegraph article, she recalled being the only female intern at the hospital at the time, adding that she had to stay in a hospital room because there were no living quarters for female interns.

She was trained in various areas, including obstetrics, urology and pediatrics.

"That was the best internship in Texas," Dr. Roper said in 2009. "You got to do everything."

In 1947, she opened up a practice at her father's drugstore, then called O.L. Ferrell Drug Store, which had a clinic in the back.

Dr. Roper was known for often trying to help patients regardless of their ability to pay for her services, and several people have told stories of her accepting food items from patients.

A 2006 article in the Tyler Morning Telegraph stated that for several decades she never joined a health maintenance organization (HMO), though she saw Medicare and Medicaid patients. In 1979, she still charged $4 per office visit.

Mayor Frederick said Dr. Roper was considered the town doctor. Dr. Roper contributed to Bullard in many ways, a few of which included service on the city council and as part of the group that started the Bullard Community Library.

Even after retirement, Dr. Roper volunteered with the Bullard Mission House and Clinic at Bullard First United Methodist Church, which provides a variety of services including medical for those who have no health insurance.

The segment of U.S. Highway 69 that runs through Bullard is named Doctor M Roper Parkway, an honor Frederick hopes will keep Dr. Roper's memory alive for years to come.

"Bullard is growing so fast. A lot of its history is getting left behind," she said. "One of our focuses as a council and mayor is to make sure that our history is protected and to make sure that people know about people like Dr. Roper and the impact that they had on the foundation of Bullard."

As news of Dr. Roper's passing has spread, many people have used social media to express the impact she had on their lives and the Bullard community.

"She wasn't just a doctor or Bullard matriarch, she was a true role model in every way," said Elizabeth Richmond-Garrison, of Bullard. "Back when I was a young girl, she was the one who answered many life questions, medical questions, and was just always there to run to."

Recommended for you

Load comments