HAMLET — After serving the medical needs of Richmond County residents for more than 40 years, Dr. Fred McQueen is hanging up his stethoscope.
McQueen will walk out of his office on Rice Street for the last time Friday afternoon as he retires from the medical profession.
The longtime doctor was honored with a short parade early Thursday afternoon, with drivers honking their horns to thank McQueen for his years of service and to offer well wishes.
The parade featured cruisers from the Hamlet Police Department and Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. One car even hung out a shirt from McQueen’s alma mater, Howard University.
“I leave with a heavy heart,” McQueen said after the parade.
McQueen gave praise to God and the staff of his medical clinic.
Through his years, the Maxton native just didn’t serve Richmond County, but the nation.
He joined the U.S. Army in 1969 and was a soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg. McQueen spent four of his six years in the Army learning his profession.
He obtained his undergraduate degree and attended medical school at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C. His internship was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
McQueen started moonlighting at the emergency room of Richmond Memorial Hospital in 1974 and was recruited to Hamlet’s Sandhills Medical Center in 1977 by Dr. Bill James and opened his own practice in 1980.
McQueen has also been active with the Richmond County chapter of the NAACP, serving as president for more than 30 years.
In 2016, McQueen was honored by the General Assembly for his service with the civil rights organization as well as being a local doctor and was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
In the late ‘80s, McQueen was instrumental in securing the historical marker for Hamlet-born jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane on U.S. 74 Business and earlier this year opened the Coltrane Blue Room on the corner of Hamlet Avenue and Bridges Street, which is the building where the jazz legend was born in 1926.
Although McQueen is retiring, his practice will remain open, with a temporary physician filling in until a permanent replacement can be found.
“It’s been a magnificent journey,” McQueen said after the parade. “Forty-six years and I’ve had a chance to meet a lot of good people and see a lot of miracles.”