Trailblazing Doctor Honored For Black History Month

Ocean County Commissioner and County Library liaison Joseph H. Vicari presents a Black History Month Proclamation honoring medical pioneer Dr. Lena Edwards to Ocean County Library Director Susan Quinn at left, and Assistant Library Director Sara Siegler at the Toms River branch of the library system. (Photo courtesy Ocean County)

  TOMS RIVER – A groundbreaking obstetrician-gynecologist was honored as part of Black History Month recently.

  Dr. Lena Edwards had a remarkable career before she decided to retire to Lakewood more than 30 years ago. She was a graduate of Howard Medical School in 1924.

  She practiced medicine in Jersey City and help found the Our Lady of Guadeloupe Maternity Clinic in Hereford, Texas, which catered to migrant families and in 1964, Edwards was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

  After moving to Lakewood following her retirement the physician continued to serve the community.

  The Ocean County Board of Commissioners honored Dr. Edwards as part of the county’s tribute to Black History Month with a proclamation presented by Commissioner Joseph Vicari who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Library.

  Gary Quinn, Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners said, “Dr. Edwards was a remarkable woman who continues to serve as a role model for young people today, nearly 35 years after her death. Throughout her career she served the poor, lobbying for better health care for anyone who needed it, regardless of what they could afford.”

  The Board of Commissioners unanimously passed the proclamation honoring Dr. Edwards for her groundbreaking efforts to help those in need.

  Vicari said, “Dr. Edwards practiced at the legendary Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital in Jersey City from the 1920s to the 1960s delivering more than 5,000 babies.” Vicari is a Jersey City native.

  Edwards was one of the first African American women to be board certified as an obstetrician-gynecologist as well as to gain admission to the International College of Surgeons.

  Vicari recalled the former Ocean County Board of Freeholders honoring Dr. Edwards when she chose to retire to Lakewood in the 1980s. “It was a privilege to have this remarkable woman call Ocean County home.”

  She continued her work while living in Lakewood, to improve the quality of life in the community until her death in 1986.

  Vicari noted the Ocean County Library System is also marking Black History Month with a special selection of history books, including a Dr. Edwards’ biography, “Medicine, Motherhood, and Mercy: The Story of a Black Woman Doctor.”

  “I encourage everyone to read a book and learn more about America’s past and the remarkable men and women who helped shape our future,” Vicari added.