Black healthcare Professionals

History of the  Black community in Lakeland fl 1885 - 1985

Professionals in the Community






Legal & Political





Professional healthcare was not available to Lakeland's Black community until the early 1900s.  Up until then, Blacks relied upon remedies that were passed down through the generations.


Dr. David "DJ" Simpson was the first Black physician to come to Lakeland.  He moved to the city in 1909, after graduating from Lenard Medical School in Raleigh, NC.  His first office was in Moorehead in Lincoln Hall, which as located on Ohio Avenue between Lemon and Orange streets.


Following Dr. Simpson's arrival other healthcare professionals arrived, like Dr. T.H. Adams, Lakeland's first Black dentist.  Around 1920, Dr. Simpson moved his office to Rose Street and Kentucky Avenue in the same building as Dr. Adams.


In the mid-1940s the city commissioned funds for a hospital to be built in the Black community.  The hospital was located at  xxxx Kettles Avenue, the current location of Oldham's Funeral Home.


Some of the Black healthcare professionals who played a significant role in providing medical care to the Black community during Lakeland's first 100 years are:

Dr. David Simpson


Dr WJ Johnson


The Colored hospital remodeled as Oldham Funeral Home

Page Under Construction

Adams, Dr. TH



Blake Sr, Dr. Alfonso




Blake, Dr. Wendell





Bunch, Dr. William




Bush, Dr. Gow




Franklin, Dr. Benjamin





Harrison, Barbara










Ivey III, Dr. Mark



Jackson, Dr. John





Johnson, Dr. W.J.



Parker, Ollie







White, Thereather








General Practice













General Practice




General Practice &















General Practice



General Practice

    & Surgeon -




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The first Black dentist to come to Lakeland.  He arrived around 1918.


Moved to Lakeland in 1941 with his wife Rosabelle Wilson Blake.  A caring physician who was active in the community.


Son of Dr. Alfonso Blake Sr and Rosabelle Blake, he moved back to Lakeland in 1977.  He was first Black Chief of Staff for Lakeland Regional Medical Center and Chief of General Surgical Services.


Brought his dentistry to Lakeland in 1946.  He later expanded his practice to Dr. William Bunch's dental clinic and laboratory.


Dr. Bush came to Lakeland in 1953.  He established a practice on Fifth Street where he practiced for over 28 years.


Came to Lakeland in 1981, and enter the practice of Dr. John Jackson upon Dr. Jackson's retirement.  He was board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Emergency Medicine


Born in Lakeland, she was the first Black to graduate from Polk Junior College (now Polk State College) nursing program in 1968.  She went to work for Lakeland Regional Medical Center where she matriculated to the position of Vice-President for the Center Executive of the Medical Treatment Center.  During her tenure, she has partnered with local communities with a cancer outreach program to screen for and treat cancer  among the poor.


Began practicing medicine in Lakeland in 1978.  He was the first Black obstetrician and gynecologist.


The first Black surgeon to come to Lakeland.  In 1968, he was given full privileges as a surgeon at Lakeland General Hospital including working in an integrated operating room and on white patients.


The second doctor to come to Lakeland.  He arrived around 1945.


In 1985, at the age of 48, Ollie Parke was the oldest student, Black or white, to graduate from Polk Community College's nursing program.  She began working at the hospital as a volunteer, then a Candy Stripper and a LPN before becoming a registered nurse.


Hired at Lakeland General Hospital (now Lakeland Regional Medical Center) in 1954.  Recognized as the first Black hired with a bachelor's degree, she started at the barracks where Black patients were treated before the hospital was integrated.

Dr. Alphonso Blake


Dr. Wendell Blake


Dr. William Bunch


Gow Bush


Dr. Benjamin Franklin


Barbara Harrison

VP, Lakeland Regional Medical Center

Dr. Mark Ivey


Dr. John Jackson

Doctor & Surgeon

Ollie Parker


Thereather White


The information displayed in this section is a small portion of information about the businesses and professionals in Lakeland's Black community during the first 100 years.   We know there is more.  Contact Us if you have information like pictures you don't mind sharing.