Dr. and Mrs. J.R. Todd Jr.
by Peter Rinaldi
I was thinking of the late Dr. J. R. Todd Jr. today.
He and I were friends for more than 30 years. I got to know him through local Democratic politics in the late 1970s. He operated a family practice, medical clinic and pharmacy on MLK Street near Cathedral School. Dr. Todd's clinic helped thousands of people
over the years with very low cost care. You may or may not know that some poor people are not on Medicaid and use cash to pay for their care. Whether you were poor or rich, Dr. Todd's clinic helped so many families. People needed his professional help.
One advantage of the clinic in those long ago days was that you could charge some of your services. If you owed $60, you could pay $30 cash or check now and $30 cash or check later,
a billing system that has gone the way of the dinosaur.
I was sitting in Todd's office one day, around 1980. We were talking about politics when his pharmacy clerk called
him on the phone, He was sitting at his desk.
Clerk: Mrs. Brown is here to pick up her prescription. She paid her clinic bill. But she doesn't have the $18 for her medicine.
Todd: Then charge her $11.
Clerk: All she has is $5.
Todd: I'm not going to take her last $5. Just let her charge $5 and she can pay us the next time she comes back. (pause) And don't tell my wife about this.
Then he starts laughing his famous Dr. Todd chuckle. He knew he would in trouble with his wife, Fredericka, with his little extra charity.
wife often served as financial manager of the clinic and she was much better at managing the clinic's money than Doc. Dr. Todd was always donating, discounting, helping people in need and funding local projects. Mrs. Todd, also kind-hearted, was always a little
more concerned about her husband's free spending and lackadaisical money management. She realized more than her husband that the clinic needed to continue to make money so husband and wife could continue to pay bills and help use some of their profits to champion
local projects, programs and charities. Doc didn't worry about the details. That was Fredericka's job.
Dr. Todd was well known for his friendly and outgoing personality.
He was a smart and positive person with a great sense of humor, who laughed easily and often. He believed it was part of his mission to help the people of our community and make Natchez-AdamsCounty a better place to live. He was appreciated and well-loved
for his dedication.
Many years later, I drove past the clinic on MLK and noticed it was closed. It was the end of an era. I didn't know why it closed. I knew Doc's health
and weight were troubling at times and affected his ability to work and get around. The closure was very sad for me. I had spent a lot of time with him over the decades. A chapter in life was gone forever.
Dr. and Mrs. J.R. Todd Jr. did so much for the people of Natchez, mostly quietly and behind the scenes. But you could always count on Dr. Todd to help fund local projects.
I miss him greatly. I've known many good men in Natchez and a few great men. Dr. Todd was one of the few great men, for sure.
Todd passed in 2016 and Doc in 2019. Please say a prayer for them.