Rarely is there such an elegant healthy mix of intellect and spirituality than that of Dr. Herman Wilbert Hyatt Sr. who practiced preaching and medicine in San Jose for over 40-years. Dr. Hyatt passed away December 31st in Madera after retiring from his successful Silicon Valley practice in 2008.http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/obituaries/ci_22387855/dr-herman-hyatt-sr-man-all-seasons-dies
Dr. Hyatt belonged to African Methodist Episcopal faith, and funeral organizers immediately decided that none of the AME churches were big enough for his funeral. Dr. Hyatt’s sparkling reputation and extraordinary service to the San Jose community proved to be quite right. Hundreds of people showed up at the East San Jose Emmanuel Baptist Church to say their good-byes.
The legacy of Dr. Hyatt was that of a powerful preacher and a compassionate pediatrician who became quickly known as a healer with faith and for not refusing medical service to patients that had no insurance or cash.
In a story filed by Joe Rodriguez of the San Jose Mercury, one long time colleague remarked, “There are no doctors like him anymore,” said Dr. Sydney Choslovsky. “I wish I could be like him”.
Dr. Hyatt while preaching in his black robe or practicing medicine would wear his trademark cowboy boots when dispensing medical care or a sermon. Both were done with a passion for life and fair play at his beginnings from the Jim Crow South to the Silicon Valley.
It is rare that a man can have such splendid devotion to medicine and his faith equally. Both faith and education were the twin foundations of Dr. Hyatt’s mental make-up.
Overcoming obstacles as race was a normal activity in Dr. Hyatt’s native Tennessee. In his autobiography, “A Cry for Help”, Hyatt shared a time when he worked in the town’s finest restaurant as a dishwasher. He decided to eat in the dining area’s white only section at 2:30AM. On the fourth night the owner caught him in the forbidden area and fired him on the spot.
“There was no fanfare”, wrote Hyatt of the incident.
Growing up in Cleveland, Hyatt was introduced to the black Methodist churches and received his religious training in Sunday School where he excelled in reading and religious studies. His appetite to learn carried him through high school, college and medical school. Dr. Hyatt was offered his first residency in 1957 when a Bakersfield hospital offered him an emergency room position. Ten years later he moved to San Jose where he opened up a private practice across from the old San Jose Medical Center.
Word quickly spread that he never rejected patients who were without financial resources to pay for medical help. It was said that Dr. Hyatt had delivered so many babies at San Jose Medical Center that they nicknamed the delivery room the “Hyatt Wing”.
Tirelessly talented, Dr. Hyatt wrote more than 30 articles for medical journals, founded the Mt. Hermon AME Church in San Jose, and earned a law degree from San Jose’s Lincoln University.
“He wanted to get a law degree just for the challenge,” noted Dr. Hyatt’s son Hamilton. “My dad put great importance on education and the Lord. If you stay focused on the Lord, your life will come together.”