Dr. Richard O. Loyd, a Georgia Cancer Specialists physician and former bishop of the Athens 2nd Ward congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away on Saturday, August 19, 2017. He died surrounded by family after 11 days in the Piedmont Athens Regional Cardiac ICU.
Born in New Orleans, La., on July 17, 1958, he was raised and graduated high school in the Memphis, Tenn., area. For two years during middle school, he lived in Panama City, Panama, where his father served a foreign tour of duty with the Federal Aviation Administration. He loved to recount tales of his Boy Scout adventures in the Panamanian jungle.
At age 19, Dr. Loyd again traveled overseas, serving a volunteer two-year Mormon proselytizing mission in Pusan, South Korea. When he later graduated from the Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine, an uncle commented that his medical training must have been the most challenging experience of his young life. He promptly replied, "No! Medical school was very difficult at times, but by far the most difficult thing I ever did was become fluent in the Korean language." Dr. Loyd loved the Korean people and their culture.
He graduated from Southaven High School in a north Mississippi suburb of Memphis, Tenn. In addition to excelling academically, Dr. Loyd played baseball, basketball, and football. He also sang solos in high school musicals, showcasing his polished tenor voice. Dr. Loyd became an Eagle Scout and served several times in his later years as a scoutmaster. Among favorite memories from his high school years was living in the same neighborhood as Elvis Presley, with the iconic rock star waving at him and other local boys as he traveled to and from Graceland.
Dr. Loyd went on to receive bachelor's degrees in microbiology and medical technology from Memphis State University, and later a master's degree in immunology from the University of Mississippi. After receiving his medical degree in Florida, he served a one-year internship with Georgia Cancer Specialists in Atlanta, then was an Internal Medicine resident and Oncology fellow at the world-renowned Alton Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.
In 1998, Dr. Loyd returned to Georgia, basing his Georgia Cancer Specialists practice in Gwinnett County, then moving to Athens in 2007 to open the first GCS clinic in the area. Dr. Loyd also was on the board of directors of Georgia Cancer Specialists. Currently affiliated with Northside Cancer Institute, Georgia Cancer Specialists is one of the largest oncology practices in the U.S. and a national leader in advanced cancer treatment and research . With more than 40 medical oncologists in the practice, its large, specially-trained medical staff allowed Dr. Loyd to extend the latest in cancer treatment, technology, therapy for blood disorders, and clinical trials to the local community.
From his medical school years until the present, Dr. Loyd was involved in several community service organizations. His most significant volunteer service was in the lay ministry of his Mormon religion. He served in numerous ecclesiastical leadership positions including leading the youth organizations, local missionary work, and serving as bishop, or congregation leader, of the Athens 2nd Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2010 to 2015. During his years as bishop, nine young men and women served across the world concurrently as missionaries from the congregation, the most ever in the history of the area. He wrote each missionary every week a personalized email letter. Most recently, he was asked to lead in a multi-congregation Northeast Georgia effort to initiate a new world-wide program replacing Mormon employment resource centers with a self-reliance outreach not only helping those seeking employment, but assisting those hoping to improve their educational prospects and succeed in starting small businesses.
Most important to Dr. Loyd was his own family, leading and teaching them to also do their best to serve one another, the church, and their communities.
Dr. Loyd is survived by his wife of 27 years, Kathy Eyre Loyd; his children, Audra Loyd of Athens, and Alex Loyd (Kaitlyn) of Provo, Utah; his parents A.G. and Rose Loyd of Southaven, Miss.; sisters Dona Bates of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and Patricia Buchanan of Boca Raton, Fla.; nephews Billy Bates of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Blair Loyd of San Antonio, Texas, Judd Loyd of Jonesboro, Ark., and Lexx Loyd of Jonesboro, Ark.; and nieces Lindsey Buchanan of Los Angeles, Calif., Morgan Buchanan of Boca Raton, Fla., and Tessa Loyd of Conway, Ark. His brother Don Loyd (Glenda) preceded him in death.
A viewing will be held at Lord and Stephens Funeral Home in Watkinsville from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, August 21. Funeral services are at the Athens Stake Center, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1080 Julian Drive, Watkinsville. The funeral service will be presided over by Bishop Dexter Joyner at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, August 22, with a viewing one hour before.