Dr. Balkcom: Serving Hopkins County Has Been An Honor

When honored Monday morning for decades of service as Local Health Authority for Hopkins County, Dr. Ichabod L. Balkcom IV said a heartfelt thank you, and noted simply that it has been his honor to serve.

Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom noted that Monday, March 28, 2022 was a “very special day for me and the Commissioners Court, really Hopkins County” because it was a time to honor Dr. I.L. Balkcom IV.

Hopkins County Commissioners Court (back row), Sheriff Lewis Tatum, Fire Marshal Andy Endsley, Dr. I.L. Balkcom IV, Deporah Balkcom and PTWD Capt. I.L. “Quint” Balkcum V

“He’s been here forever. As long as I can remember, Dr. Balkcom always was a Hopkins County doctor who took care of the very least of those. I am so proud to be able to honor him today,” Newsom said during the regular Commissioners Court session Monday.

Balkcom served the Hopkins County community for 28 years, 24 of which were spent in the Medical Surgical Clinic and 4 years as part of CHRISTUS Trinity Clinics. He also served as Local Health Authority for Hopkins County for at least 25 years.

In a July 22, 2021 letter to patients and friends, Dr. I.L. Balkcom and wife Deborah let patients and friends know that that his association with the clinic had ended. He has not retired, but he Deborah were going in a different direction, and thanked everyone for keeping them in prayer as he continued to heal from a leg fracture.

Hopkins County Fire Marshal Andy Endsley noted that few in Hopkins County knew a Local Health Authority exists much less that Hopkins County had one. He admitted that until the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world he was unfamiliar with the roles and responsibilities of a LHA.

“We realized at that point how much authority Dr. Balkcom had when things were shut down and moving forward, but with Dr. Balkcom’s progressive thinking we were not locked down like a lot of other counties, our neighboring counties, things like that,” Endsley said.

The fire marshal noted that Hopkins was one of the last counties in Texas to report a death from COVID.

“In fact, Dr. Balkcom argued and won the first case because that patient happened to be his own patient. So, he go that death removed from our county as a COVID death. Any death from COVID is one too many, but we’ve done very well throughout the whole county,” Endsley said. 2020. March 3 marked the 24th confirmed COVID death in 2022.)

Endsley attributed that to positive thinking and moving forward with Balkcom, who attended many meetings with county officials, interjecting his thoughts and knowledge.

Deborah & Dr. I.L. Balkcum IV

In addition to having his own practice, while serving as the LHA, Balkcom also worked with the sheriff’s office, providing care regularly to inmates in the county jail. Endsley expressed appreciation for Balkcom for “what all he’s done for the sheriff’s office over the years.” Dr. Balkcom and his family’s service to the community doesn’t end there, Endsley noted

“All of the Balkcoms here, they are humble people. They don’t brag on theirself. You’ve really got to drag out of them what they all are involved in. They are involved in a lot of animal rescues, things like that. I can’t express how much we appreciate Dr. Balkcom and his family,” Endsley said.

The list of community activities they have participated is long and diverse.

Balkcom has served on the Hopkins County Hospital Board and as president of Texas Academy of Family Medicine. His civic involvement has included being part of the Northeast Texas Choral Society for over 20 years, serving on the Sulphur Springs Planning & Zoning Commission, the United Way selection of benefits committee. He too has served as a Sunday school teacher at First United Methodist Church and been a member of First Baptist Church.

His wife Deborah has served on the Chamber of Commerce Committee, Hopkins County Civic Center Board, Adult Leadership and was the chief volunteer for Hearts of Life for several years.

The Balkcoms are also known for their support of many local organizations, especially those supporting youth and the local health care community, including Northeast Texas Livestock Auction; school FFA, band, athletic departments; and the Hopkins County Health Care Foundation.

In fact, the Lights of Life Campaign Committee selected Dr. I.L. IV and Deborah Balkcom as 2018-2019 campaign honorees for their exceptional service, commitment and passion for Hopkins county, specifically for their 25-years of support of the hospital.

During Monday’s Commissioners Court, Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley expressed appreciation to Balkcom for “being my health doctor for many, many years.” He too complimented Dr. Balkcom and wife Deborah for the assets they have been as citizens of Hopkins County, to the organizations too numerous to mention the Balkcoms have supported over the years.

“I hate to see y’all leave Hopkins County. Y’all were just such a great asset when y’all lived here and served this county. I am so grateful for that. You raised a mighty fine son too,” Bartley said with a laugh.

Dr. I.L. Balkcom IV and Deborah Balkcom announced as Lights of Life honorees in 2019

Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price expressed appreciation to Balkcom for being his family doctor.

“You’ve been a great asset to the county and we all appreciate you,” Price said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Anglin said he did not have as much experience with Dr. Balkcom as his fellow Commissioners Court members, but Balkcom was his grandmother’s doctor. He expressed appreciation to Balkcom for his time served in Hopkins County.

Sheriff Lewis Tatum said he’s been friends with the Balkcoms for a long time, longer even than he’s been sheriff or even a sheriff’s deputy.

“They were very good to my children,” Tatum said, adding with a grin that Dr. Balkcom was picky about his fish, but did allow him to fish on his property. He’s worked with the Balkcoms on dog rescues as well. “They’ve always been there for me and my family and we always appreciate and will always be there for them.”

“It has been my honor, thank you,” Dr. Balkcom said simply.

“Hopkins County, Texas honors and appreciates Dr. Ichabod L. Balkcom, MD, for his decades of service as Hopkins County Local Health Authority. The citizens of Hopkins County thank you for going beyond the call of duty many times over the last 25 years,” Newsom read as he presented the plaque to Dr. Balkcom on behalf of the Hopkins County Commissioners Court, during the regular court session March 28, 2022.

“Thank you very much. It was a lot of fun taking care of the jail. We could write a book about my time in jail,” Balkcom said to laughter. ” I’ve seen everything that you can imagine. I’ve seen tattoos that I didn’t know you could put ’em there. The thing I wanted to tell everybody is, anytime you have an opportunity to serve your community, do it.”

The Balkcoms have two sons, including Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife Capt. I.L. Balkcom V, who was among those present to when Dr. Balkcom was recognized Monday morning by the county officials.

“I am his biggest fan, in stature and standing here. He’s done a lot for this place and we appreciate,” Capt. Balkcom said.

“Even though we reside in Smith County, we still are Hopkins Countians and I’m still here twice a week taking care of my animals, still,” Deborah Balkcom said.

Author: Faith Huffman

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