Roast cooks up more than $78,000 for clinic

TUPELO – The Antone Tannehill Good Samaritan Free Clinic served up a double dose of the best medicine Tuesday.
Laughter was the prescription for the evening as the friends of Drs. Mary and Sam Pace teased them about their college days, poked fun at their Navy service and pulled out old photographs at the clinic’s annual roast at the Summit Center in Tupelo.
The event raised more than $78,000 to fund the clinic, where volunteer health care providers take care of working Lee County residents who can’t afford insurance. In 2010, the clinic marked its 50,000th patient visit.
“It’s a fabulous organization that we’ve been involved with since its inception,” said Dr. Mary Pace, who is an internal medicine physician. “We hope we’re making Dr. Tannehill (clinic founder) proud.”
It was hard to rattle the skeletons in Mary Pace’s closet – especially since she’s an expert on osteoporosis, said Janice Trawick, who has worked with Pace for nine years as business manager for Tupelo Medical Group.
“Everybody I asked said she wasn’t funny and never does anything embarrassing,” joked Trawick, who had to take some dramatic license during her turn as a roaster. “Everybody knows she’s the best…. She always puts her patients before herself.”
Roaster Rubye Del Harden Jaeger pulled in those cute stories that come from raising a family over the course of three decades in Tupelo.
In elementary school, when the class shared what their parents did, son David Pace said “My mom’s a doctor, and my dad plays golf,” Jaeger said.
The 2009 honoree, Dr. David Irwin, was tapped to roast the Paces together.
“This is a lot more fun,” said Irwin, who lived next door to Sam Pace in the dorms at Mississippi State University. “There’s not a pair like them.”
Even though the jokes were on Sam and Mary, the whole evening was about the can-do community spirit that makes it possible for the clinic to provide free health care and medicine year after year, said Sam Pace, who is a gastroentrologist.
“Here we are celebrating our 50,000th patient visit,” Sam Pace said. “What an honor to be a part of that celebration.”

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal