Dr. Catherine M. McCottry
CHARLOTTE'S FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALE PHYSICIAN
Dr. Catherine McKee McCottry, the daughter of John and Violet Miller McKee, was born February 3, 1921. She is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. McCottry received professional preparation and training from Barber Scotia Junior College (Concord, North Carolina), a finishing school for young girls. In 1941 she earned her B.S. degree in Biology from Johnson C. Smith University and earned her medical degree from Howard University School of Medicine in 1945. Dr. Charles Drew the founder of the Blood Bank was one of her instructors and her mentor.
Because of Dr. McCottry’s hard work and determination she made history in becoming the first female student to graduate from Johnson C. Smith University and obtain a medical degree. She completed her residencies at Harlem Hospital, New York, N.Y., and Good Samaritan Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. She completed her residency at Providence Hospital, Chicago, Illinois. After completing her residencies, Dr. McCottry returned to Charlotte, North Carolina and was the first African American female physician of the 19th century and the first African American female OBGYN in the Charlotte area. She married Dr. Turner M. McCottry and in 1952 she moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where she joined him in practice and the two became the first husband and wife African American medical team in the area. This outstanding surgeon was the first African American female Obstetrician Gynecologist in the Charleston area. In the late 1960’s she was the first African American physician to desegregate all Charleston hospitals.
For over 45 years, Catherine McCottry helped to educate the community on health matters through many initiatives. She was the chair and founder of the Gamma Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Health Committee, initiating a countywide hypertension program to educate 15-23 year olds. She helped fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society, and as a part of Dr. McCottry’s untiring dedication to the American Cancer Society there is a nook in the HOPE Lodge in Charleston, SC (a retreat for cancer patients) named after her. Dr. McCottry received a gold pin from the American Cancer Society for her diligent service. She has received numerous awards and accolades and has served on many boards. Dr. McCottry was featured in the 2000 BellSouth African American Calendar. She was also inducted in the SC African American Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Dr. McCottry was honored as a Local Legend in Charlotte, North Carolina as the first female doctor of the 19th century in Charlotte, North Carolina. This exhibit was displayed in the Charlotte Museum until June, 2006 and is a part of a national exhibit and honor. In May of 2006, Dr. McCottry received an honorary doctorate degree from her undergraduate college, Johnson C. Smith. In 2008, Dr. McCottry was profiled in the Post and Courier’s High Profile for her achievements and trail blazing accomplishments in the medical community.
She was honored by the MOJA Arts Festival on two different occasions, the Community Tribute Luncheon and Standing on the Shoulders of our Elders. Most recently, she established a scholarship at Johnson C. Smith University named the Catherine McKee McCottry, MD, PhD and Lillie Rose McKee Scholarship Fund to be used for young women who are interested in the science field.
This humble servant, Dr. Catherine McKee McCottry, is a member of Zion-Olivet Presbyterian Church.
She has two children, Charles McCottry (Barbara) and Tammy McCottry-Brown (Christopher), six grandchildren, Catherine, Taylor, Shemar, Mya Jo, Jordan, Christopher and her special daughter Frances Clayton Gray.
Dr. McCottry says, “She did not have the money or resources to pursue her studies but she was persistent and persevered knowing and believing, that if you do what’s in your heart and set your course, with the help of God and your faith you can achieve anything.”