Dr. Fred Hurst: One Of Tennessee’s Best

By John J. Duncan Jr.


East Tennessee is filled with wonderful people, and one of the very best is a man who has helped take care of me for many years, Dr. Fred Hurst.

I cannot find words to adequately express my appreciation, respect and admiration for my friend, Fred.

There is very little that is more important, kinder, and even more Christ-like in this life than helping sick people to get well.

Fred started his medical practice roughly the same time that I started my law practice, so he has been my doctor for close to 50 years.

One of the last times I went to see him, I told him as seriously as I could that I wanted to make a deal with him. I said, “25 years from now, I want you to give the eulogy at my funeral.” He had a big laugh and then said he would do that if I would make the same deal with him.

Most doctors are making so much money now that many, especially specialists, are retiring in their 50s or early 60s. Fred and I are around the same age, and I am sure he could have begun a very comfortable retirement many years ago. But he is still going strong.

He has a heart of gold and loves taking care of people and I am thankful for that, and many, many others are thankful, too. Fred has touched thousands of lives in good and positive ways.

When I married my late wife, Lynn, we just had a very small wedding in the home where I grew up in Holston Hills. Fred was one of the very small group of friends and family that were there and served as our unofficial-official photographer.

A few months ago, my new wife, Vickie, became very concerned about some severe chest pains I was having and insisted on taking me to see Fred. He immediately eased her concerns when he told her, “Vickie, I have seen Jimmy when he was really sick. He is not sick today.”

In fact, I have been to Fred for several different illnesses over the years, and he has almost always diagnosed me correctly and very quickly.

Unfortunately, almost everybody today has had a mother, father, son, daughter, brother, or sister who has gone through a divorce or has been divorced themselves. Fred had a short marriage many years ago, but he and I have a mutual friend who is going through a divorce now. Fred made this friend feel much better when he told him to “join the club” and talked to him with love and kindness.

Fred has had a very long, happy marriage to his wife Deena, and they raised a fine son, James, who is in medical practice with his Dad. Fred’s and Deena’s pride and joy now are their two good-looking, intelligent grandchildren.

I told James several years ago that I would probably have to come to him someday and that he would probably tell me to do something for my health and that I would tell him “Your Dad never would have made me do that.”

Fred has such an outgoing personality that he makes everyone feel better. He should teach young doctors about bedside manner because he is the best.

My two sons and I caught on to one of his methods some time ago when we found that all three of us had been to see him for different problems over the preceding year or so. Fred had told all three of us that he had had that same illness or problem, and almost immediately each of us started feeling better.

Fred has been good friends with many Democrats like Vice President Al Gore, former Democratic State Chairman Roy Herron, Jake and C.H. Butcher, and others. Fred’s former medical partner, Dr. Larry Huskey, also was a staunch Democrat.

I told Dr. Huskey one day that whenever Fred is around me, he is a staunch Republican. I know he is a fiscal conservative because I don’t believe I ever got a campaign contribution out of him.

But Fred has always had a great interest in politics and great love for this country.

I thought and still think so much of him that I sent the very first letter on my new Congressional letterhead to him, and more than 30 years later I sent my very last letter on my Congressional letterhead to him.

Fred Hurst is not only a great doctor, but more importantly, he is a good and kind husband, father and grandfather, and a dear and cherished friend to me and many others.

This great country would be an even better place if it had more men like Dr. Fred Hurst.