Dr. Leon Banov was a calming voice of comfort during uncertain times

One hundred years ago, the infectious diseases of smallpox, typhoid, diptheria, and tuberculosis were of great concern for the community. In addition, a few years earlier the Spanish Flu had been spreading quickly and combined with the lack of sanitation standards in the food industry there was an exponential health safety problem. Dr. Leon Banov, Director of Charleston County Health Department, was routinely featured in the daily paper with his outreach efforts to create grading standards, educate, and inoculate. Dr Banov was a highly respected man in the community. A search of his name in the database of Charleston’s current and historic newspapers online at the library produces more than 8,000 articles.

One of his regular features was titled “Plain Talk.” During every public health situation, his remarks were shared with the public via newsprint. In 1923 he was advocating for safeguards against an influenza epidemic. He alerted people to the “two individuals” who spread the disease: “1) The careless cougher. 2) The careless sneezer.” He continues that they may be “innocent offenders” and advises: “If you have to cough or sneeze – do it behind your handkerchief, please.” His “ ‘Healthgram’ “ continues with details about influenza and suggests that: “The man who looks upon it merely as a ‘bad cold’ is in need of a good alarm clock.” He ends with a simple formula: “Sleep well. Eat well. Play well. Don’t worry.”

Dr Banov lived in Byrnes Downs. His home was featured in the Byrnes Downs Garden Club Scrapbook. In 1971 at the age of 83 he died in an automobile accident at Parish Road and Savannah Highway. The community mourned the tragic loss of the man who had escaped from Poland during Russian occupation; grew up in Charleston; earned a medical degree and cared for them, advising them on all things health safety related.

Local historian and author Donna Jacobs would love to hear your stories and see your old photographs of St. Andrew’s Parish. Contact her at westashleybook@gmail.com

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