Dr. Sylvester “Jack” Cain Jr. practiced medicine in Norcross for 30 years, beloved by his fellow citizens.
Jack was born in 1902 and grew up on Thrasher Street in Norcross, in a house next door to the Brunswick Hotel, which was run at that time by his parents, Sylvester and Maybelle Cain.
As a young boy one of his chores each day was to ring the dinner bell, announcing the evening meal for guests at the hotel. He attended Oglethorpe University (riding the “Airline Belle” train to school each day) and then Emory University medical school. After graduating he practiced in Americus, GA and then Spartanburg, SC. Lillian Carter, mother of President Jimmy Carter, was one of the nurses that he worked with in Americus.In the mid-1930s Norcross was in need of a physician, and Jack was convinced to return to his home townto practice in 1936. He remained in Norcross, living in a house near his boyhood home, until his death in 1965.
In his earlier years Jack was a sort of bon vivant, joining the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity at Oglethorpe and enjoying a bachelor life. That ended around 1946, though, when he met and married Eugenia Pyron, the head nurse at Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital in Duluth. She and her young daughter Peg moved from Duluth and became part of the Norcross community.
Jack had an office in downtown Norcross, but Peg remembers that one room of their home was dedicated for use as a waiting room for patients, who came to see Dr. Cain at his home at all hours of the day or night. (Patients who were actively bleeding were encouraged to remain out on the lawn.)
The community’s appreciation for his service was shown in 1955, when Dr. Cain suffered a ruptured ulcer that required several weeks of hospitalization and then further bed rest. The morning he finally returned to his office after this extended absence a crowd of local residents was waiting to welcome him back. He found that his office door key no longer worked, but a new key was produced from the crowd, and, when he opened the door, he found that the community had completely refurbished his office space while he was recovering, as a gift to show their appreciation for his care.
Glancy Jones Dunn, who was the first baby born at Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital and grew up in Norcross, has strong memories of his care when she was a young girl: “I remember Dr. Cain being our family physician, visiting his upstairs office in Norcross or his coming to our home if we had the measles, mumps or chicken pox. When my younger sister would go for her vaccinations she would carry her baby doll and Dr. Cain always made sure her doll received her shots also. He was so kind and pleasant.”