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Women’s History Month Spotlight: Charlotte E. Maguire, MD: Orlando’s First Female Doctor

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Charlotte Maguire was born Charlotte Edwards on September 1, 1918, in Indiana but soon moved to Orlando for her mother’s health. Unfortunately, her mom died when she was just seven years old. Charlotte was raised by her dad and grandparents and wanted to become a physicist when she grew up.

Charlotte won a scholarship to the University of Heidelberg to study physics, but had to return to the United States in 1938 as rumblings of WWII began. She enrolled in Memphis State Teacher’s College when she returned to the US and graduated with a teaching degree in 1940. After graduation, she applied to medical school in Memphis and was accepted, but on the third day of class, she was told someone else needed her spot and she was removed from the school. At that point, her grandfather intervened on her behalf and she was one of the first women accepted into the University of Arkansas’s medical school.

In those days, no one thought that women should be in medical school and Charlotte’s professors would often ban her to another room, preventing her from being present during the lectures. This didn’t stop her and with the help of other students who took notes for her, Charlotte graduated with a medical degree in 1944.

Upon graduation, Charlotte returned to Orlando as the first woman doctor at Orange General Hospital, which would later become Orange Memorial Hospital and is now Orlando Health (ORMC). Newspaper headlines at the time hailed her as “Orlando’s first girl doctor.”

A few years later, in 1946, Charlotte made another first when she opened Orlando’s first pediatric clinic owned by a woman. The clinic cared for children with disabilities and offered free care to those who could not afford to pay for care and the clinic was in operation for the next 22 years.

In 1948, Charlotte became Mrs. Raymer Maguire after her marriage to Raymer Francis Maguire Sr., a well-known lawyer, citrus grower, land developer, and University of Florida alumni.

During the 1950s, Dr. Magiure was very busy as she was not only operating her private practice and on staff at the hospital, but she was a delegate to the World Health conference in London, Chief of Staff for Children’s Home Society physicians in Central Florida, director of Orlando Child Health Clinic, director or consultant for two crippled children groups, plus many more. It was also during this time that she was asked to help develop the University of Florida’s medical school.

Then in 1960, Charlotte’s husband passed away and she found herself returning to school at Florida Southern College to get a citrus certification so she could run the citrus business she had inherited from her husband, which she did for the next ten years. She eventually sold the orange groves but continued to be a trustee of her family’s Orlando Fashion Square shopping center.

It was after this, Charlotte moved to Tallahassee and began a new career in government. She held important jobs in the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services and the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

In 1999, Charlotte donated $1 million to Florida State University’s Program in Medical Sciences to create the Charlotte Edwards Maguire Eminent Scholar Chair. Then in 2000, at 82, she was an outspoken advocate for the creation of a medical school at the University. Charlotte became the only woman to have helped create both the College of Medicine at the University of Florida and Florida State University.

During this time, Charlotte lived at Westminster Oaks Retirement Center in Tallahassee. She donated $1 million dollars to the center to create the Maguire Lifelong Learning Center which provides residents and the community a place to keep their minds sharp as they get older.

Charlotte supported FSU’s medical school and the learning center until she died on December 6, 2014. Dr. Charlotte Edwards Maguire was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015. She was once heard saying that going from Orlando’s first woman doctor to providing scholarships for young women (and men) to attend medical school made all the hard work worth it.

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Lynn DeJarnette is a reporter with Florida National News. | info@floridanationalnews.com

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