Luvia Margaret Willard (March 24, 1882 - June 29, 1977)
Luvia Willard was born in Sawyerville, Quebec, Canada, the daughter of Lockhart Rand Willard and Eleanor McDermott and was a direct descendant of Major Simon Willard, who came to America in 1634. She graduated from Stanstead Wesleyan College in 1902 and attended Cornell University where she was a member of the Cornell Medical Society and was one of only two women to receive medical degrees in 1909. She continued her studies at the West Philadelphia Hospital for Women and was an intern at the Long Island State Hospital in Brooklyn from 1910 until 1911, when she resigned to open a private practice.
She set up her practice in Jamaica, Queens, and was the first woman to be appointed a member of the staff of the Jamaica Hospital (1915). Unusual for the period, she also owned her own Ford automobile by 1912 and was the first Queens County Woman to apply for a revolver permit (1914). During World War I she volunteered as an ambulance driver. She worked, at various times, as a “general practitioner, a surgeon and a specialist.”
By the early 1920s, she was the acting girls physician for the Queensboro chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She became the attending physician in pediatrics at Jamaica Hospital in 1923 and director of the children’s clinic in 1926. By the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, Willard was the attending physician at the Chapin and Ottilie Homes and was a member of the New York City Tuberculosis Clinic. It was said of her that year: “Women physicians have traveled a long way in the last hundred years, and if Dr. Luvia Willard is any criterion of the next hundred, her pace will carry them beyond the top of the medical profession.”
In 1923 Willard decided to create camp for girls, located in Peconic, Southold Town, NY. That year she purchased 25.634 acres in the hamlet, bounded by Long Island Sound and Soundview Avenue. She opened her camp - called "Camp Dunes" - on June 30, 1924 with the site under the direction of Marian E. Wood. The girls who attended the camp called her affectionately “Dr. Billy.” Local artist and Southold historian Lawrence Waitz worked for Willard during the late 1920s, for whom he procured horses for the camp. On December 11, 1931 Willard sold her camp to Thomas and Lois Ward – founders of what would become camp Pinecrest Dunes.
Ever wanting to expand her horizons, Willard traveled to Europe in 1928 to study “the diseases of children” in both London and in France. By 1931 she was teaching pediatric medicine at the Post graduate Medical School located in New York City. She served as president of the Queens County Business and Professional Women organization by 1940 and during World War II served as its defense chairperson.
Willard was the founder of the American Women’s Hospital Reserve Corps. in 1940, whose aim was to equip “the American women with knowledge of how to render aid in all emergencies.” She was a colonel in rank, served as the national director of the organization, and lectured extensively for the group. By 1941, she was serving as the Vice Chairman of The Jamaica Hospital Medical Board.
In addition to being affiliated with eight different medical societies, she was a member of the American Medical Association, the Academy of Medicine, and was a fellow of the American College of Physicians. She was also active in the Salvation Army, where she served as a chairperson of one of its professional divisions.
Willard volunteered in a number of Queens County community organizations and was interested in poetry, publishing at least one book on the subject entitled “Bric-a-Brac” (published 1932). She won an award for her poetry in 1939.