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100 years young: Greensboro doctor ‘marks’ milestone birthday

Dr. Edgar Marks was one of the original physicians at Moses Cone Hospital and served in Korea between wars. At age 100, he is as sharp as a tack.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — If you happen to bump into Dr. Edgar Marks around town, take a seat and cancel your plans -- you'll get a free, front-row seat to a century of local and world history, plus some complimentary camaraderie. 

This Friday, Oct. 29, as he celebrates his 100th birthday, he expresses gratitude for his sharp memory, fine health and the life experiences that have allowed him to make a 'mark' on his hometown for 10 decades. 

Marks is very humble in talking about his own achievements, but his accolades could fill pages of a novel. He was a longtime internal medicine doctor for Cone Health, one of the original physicians at Moses Cone Hospital when it opened in 1953. 

Before then, in 1946, he served as the director of public health and welfare for the U.S. military government in what would become South Korea ('Republic of Korea'). Between wars, Korea was a largely-impoverished country where millions of people did not have access to ample health care or medical facilities. 

But, perhaps Marks' most vivid and emotional memories involve World War II. WFMY News 2's Meghann Mollerus talked with him about it in a 2019 interview.

"December 7, 1941 -- I was in a car and hitchhiking from Greensboro to Durham to Duke. When we got to Duke, we didn't have a radio on. Fellows were running around like crazy, and that's when I found out there was Pearl Harbor. We went in at that time almost immediately and enlisted," he recalled.

At that time, Marks was finishing up his undergraduate degree at Duke University and starting medical school at Wake Forest University (Bowman Gray). The atomic bomb dropped on Japan right before the U.S. Army sent medical students into combat. 

But, Marks' best friend and Greensboro high school classmate -- Sigmund Pearl -- died in action. 

“I received a letter from him in March of 1945, which told me what he was doing. He said, ‘Do not tell my parents,’ because his job was to go out into battle and bring in the dead. And, apparently, he was already dead, when I got the letter,” Marks said.

The letter had special instructions.

“He said, ‘You stay there, because I’m gonna need you.’ (I) still cry," he admitted.

Since then, Marks has made a mission of honoring Pearl's legacy at the Pearl Memorial Fieldhouse at what is now Grimsley High School. 

RELATED: 'I Still Cry': WWII Honor Roll Resurrects Stories of 99 Fallen Classmates From Same Greensboro High School

These days, Marks enjoys staying up-to-date with world happenings and spending family time with his wife, four children and grandchildren. He also is a devoted member of Temple Emanuel in Greensboro.

Senior Rabbi Andy Koren sent his good wishes, writing, "Moses lived to be 120 years old and on birthdays, we will say, 'May you be like Moses and live to be 120, or at least may you live to be 100 and feel like you are 20."

He added, "Edgar (Marks) has made it to 100. I hope he still feels like he is 20. Most importantly, I and all of Temple Emanuel send best wishes to him on reaching this blessed milestone."

Watch: previous interview with Marks and local veterans' author Harry Thetford, discussing Greensboro High School's 99 students who served and died in World War II

RELATED: NC WWII veteran turns 100 and still lives life to the fullest

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