Dr. Agnes Lattimer, 89

Dr. Agnes Lattimer

Dr. Agnes Lattimer, a resident of Hyde Park and Chicago pediatrician passed away earlier this month. She was 89.

Lattimer was born on May 13, 1928 in Memphis Tenn., to Arthur O’Neil Lattimer and Hortense Lewis Lattimer, she was the oldest of six children.

As a child, Lattimer told friends and family that she had three dreams to become a doctor, a pilot, and pianist. Lattimer achieved all of her goals.

In 1949, Lattimer graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. She wanted to attend Meharry Medical College, which is also located in Nashville, but decided to come to Chicago to attend medical school.She had an aunt who lived in the city. Lattimer applied to three medical schools: the University of Illinois, University of Chicago and the Chicago Medical School. She chose the Chicago Medical School and graduated in 1954.

“She became very popular and her classmates were very proud of her and they supported her in every way that they could,” said Dr. Herbert Lerner, who attended the Chicago Medical School ahead of Dr. Lattimer. Dr. Herbert Lerner and his wife, Dr. Ruth Lerner were also pediatricians and had a private practice for over 50 years in the Hyde Park Bank Building, 1525 E. 53rd St.

Lerner said Lattimer was one of few if any African American students in the medical program.

She completed her residency in Pediatrics at Michael Reese Hospital and became Chief Resident in her final year of the program. Following her residency, Lattimer established a private pediatric practice while teaching at the University of Illinois’ School of Public Health and the University of Chicago School of Medicine. Her private practice was located in the Englewood neighborhood.

She was a leading expert in areas such as lead poisoning and its affect on childhood development. She was an advocate for quality healthcare for the underprivileged.

“I lived with her for a number of years and I worked for her for awhile,” said her youngest sister, Camille Lattimer. “She was fun to be around she was very knowledgeable.”

From 1971 to 1984 she served as director of Ambulatory Pediatrics and as director of Fantus Health Center from 1984 to 1986 at Cook County Hospital. She was named director of Cook Country in March of 1986 and at the time was believed to be the only African American woman to hold the top medical post at a major hospital.

Over the span of her 30-plus-year career she received many honors and accolades she was honored as Pediatrician of the Year by the Illinois hapter American Academy of Pediatrics, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Chicago Medical School and from the Michael Reese Alumni Association. She was named outstanding executive employee in Cook County Government in 1987 and has received Outstanding Community Service Awards from numerous communities throughout the city. Lattimer was also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. she joined the organization as undergraduate at Fisk.

Outside of medicine Lattimer enjoyed flying. She learned to fly in small private airport outside of Chicago.

She married Frank Bethel on March 20, 1973 and the couple had one son, Bernard Goss Jr. Both preceded her in death.

Lattimer leaves behind her remaining sister, Camille Lattimer and grandson Bernard Goss III.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 3 at Soka Gakkai, 1455 S. Wabash Ave., at 2 p.m.