The Stead Center and the McElligott Veterans Memorial Garden

Last month members of the PA History Society staff visited the Stead Center located in Durham, North Carolina. The Stead Center was built in 2004 by the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants to serve as a combined office-conference complex. It is named after Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., the founder of the Physician Assistant profession.

The Stead Center has a recreation of Dr. Eugene Stead Jr.’s lake home office. After Dr. Stead’s death in 2005, his family donated furniture, books, pictures, and other artifacts to the History Society. These were used to recreate the office based off of photographs taken of the lake home office prior to Dr. Stead’s death.For more on recreating Dr. Stead’s office and the other PA History Society exhibits at the Stead Center, click here.

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On the grounds of the Stead Center is the John McElligott Veterans Memorial Garden. It is the only Memorial Garden in the United States that honors only Physician Assistants that have served or are currently serving in the uniformed services. In the garden is a life-sized statue of a medic giving aid to a wounded soldier. It is titled “Life Savers Then – Caregivers Now” and honors the pioneer Physician Assistants, the majority of which were veterans. The statue was sculpted by John Prazen and was commissioned by Don Pedersen, PA-C.  Mr. Pedersen and Kent Wallace, PA-C, raised money to recast the statue and donate its replica to the Stead Center in 2007.

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Physician Assistant profession in 2017, the PA History Society and the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants joined efforts to raise funds to expand and upgrade the garden. The funds raised will cover the costs to update the landscaping, add a walkway and sitting area near the statue, spotlights for the flag pole, a fence to enclose the garden area, two brick benches, and a wall of remembrance with bronze plaques representing each branch of the uniformed services.

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The upgraded Veterans Garden will be rededicated in April of 2017.

The PA History Society is still taking general, tax-deductible donations to go toward the garden enhancements. You can donate through our PayPal site.

The Society is also selling tax-deductible engraved brick pavers through Bricks R Us. The engraved brick pavers will be featured in the walkway and patio areas of the garden to honor PAs who have served, or are currently serving in the uniformed services. The engraved bricks are a great way to support the Memorial Garden and to honor your service, or that of another PA. You may order the bricks through the Bricks R Us site.

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