Friday, May 29, 2009

Dr. Norris Royston is a Good Scout

A front-page article in the Fauquier Times-Democrat today (Friday, May 29) announces that Dr. Norris Royston, a physician with Countryside Family Practice in Marshall, received the Good Scout Award. The annual award is given by the Piedmont Region chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.

The story provides a nice portrait of a dedicated doctor who has made community service a cornerstone of his life.

With permission of the Fauquier Times-Democrat, the story is reprinted here.

Scout's honor
Marshall doctor receives award from Boy Scouts for community service

By Connie Lyons
Fauquier Weekend Contributing Writer

A family physician in Marshall for 30 years, Dr. Norris Royston has made community service the cornerstone of his life.

“I discovered as a young man the contribution I could make to my community was through medicine. I grew up knowing family doctors who knew the patient, knew my family, and office nurses who were dedicated to relief of human suffering,” explained Royston, who, on May 27, received the Good Scout Award from the Piedmont Region Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.

A dinner held in his honor at Fauquier Springs Country Club drew more than 200 people, with Willard Scott acting as Master of Ceremonies. Frank Serene, one of the organizers of the event, said the selection of Royston to receive the award was easy.

“A bunch of us sat down together and tossed around 10 or 12 names,” said Serene. “We were looking for someone whose life represents the standards and ideals of scouting. When Dr. Royston’s name came up, we looked at each other and said, ‘well, that’s the one.’

“He’s someone the youth of our country can look up to and use as a guidepost for their future, someone who genuinely believes in people helping people. He served as medical examiner for the county, chaired the Virginia Medical Society, served on the Board of Fauquier Hospital. He’s done it all.”

For Royston, community service is a family tradition.

“Basically it’s bred in the bone for me,” he said. “My father, grandfather, great grandfather, for over 100 years my ancestors were involved in public service.”

Having grown up in Middleburg, Royston said that he was “taught integrity, professionalism, duty. Most of those who ultimately came to serve the community had also served as young soldiers in World War II and came home to raise their families. Sense of public service was ingrained in me as far back as I can remember.”

Royston remembers the role his family played in the community when he was a child.

“There were no rescue squads, no 911. My father had the only ambulance so ours was the only phone answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” he said. “There were no central alarms. We set off the fire siren from the top of our basement steps. My father was a funeral director. Often relatives of those who died joined us at meals for my mother's extraordinary home cooking.”

He learned about community service not only at home, but at school as well.

“When I was in sixth grade, my class delivered food to a family in Fauquier County. I could see the dirt between the floorboards. Chickens were wandering through the first floor. The house had no indoor plumbing. It was then that I first perceived the need in my own community,” said Royston, who attended The Hill School in Middleburg and Episcopal High School in Alexandria before going to the University of Virginia, where he majored in French.

“I’m really glad that I had a broad-based education that exposed me to languages, literature, the arts,” he said. In 1973, Royston was awarded a Doctor of Medicine degree by the Medical College of Virginia. In 1976, he set up an office in his home, where he lived and raised three daughters while building a family-oriented practice.
Scouting is the linchpin of Royston's life’s work.

“I entered Scouting in my formative years. It provided me the foundation by which I live my life every day and it contributed to my sense of community service,” he said, noting that he can still recite the 12 principles of Scout law “as if I had learned them yesterday.”

He refers to Scouting as “ a leadership program with camping as the bait. It instills leadership qualities in our youth. It also teaches basic survival skills: what to do if a bear comes after you; how to cook in the outdoors without getting food poisoning. One of the original concepts of Scouting was to teach people to live off the land. The organization forms our future leaders and gives them the necessary tools that will help them in their careers, personal lives, communities, and society as a whole.”

Royston said that the Good Scout Award “recognizes the life accomplishments expected of an Eagle Scout.” Both Royston and Serene point with pride to the accomplishments of John F. Kennedy, first Scout to assume the presidency, Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, and the entire crew of Project Mercury, the first manned space craft, all eight of them Eagle Scouts. Although he is no longer actively involved in Scouting, Royston performs physicals for Scouts and their leaders every year.

While Royston has a long history of community service, he continues to work to help others in his everyday life.
Concerned about the possible devastating effects of a pandemic illness, Royston serves on the Secure Commonwealth Panel which is focused on protecting the citizens of Virginia against all hazards. As a result, Virginia is now one of the top three states in preparedness for all types of potential dangers.

“We already have one set of doses of vaccine for 25 percent of Virginia’s population in the event of a flu pandemic,” Royston said.

He also serves on the advisory board of the Department of Family Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“We’re in the process of creating a model of what we want family practitioners to be like in the next generation. Among other things, we need to design a system to take care of uninsured and under-insured people,” said Royston, who was the 185th president of the Medical Society of Virginia and served twice as its chair. “I’ve always tried to advocate in the legislature for what I felt was in the best interest of the patient.”

Royston chaired the Dean's Advisory Committee at the Medical College of Virginia School of Medicine for six years which includes 58 doctors from all sub-specialties and every geographic region of Virginia, and is a founding board member of Oak Hill National Bank (in formation) set to open on June 8 in Warrenton and Marshall.

Though he enjoys looking to the future, Royston is not thrilled with some modern trends.

He deplores the growing narcissism he sees in today’s society. “Many of today’s practices run directly contrary to ‘duty, honor, integrity’. Twitter is a good example. People go on non-stop about every mundane minute of their lives,” he said, noting that he feels life should be guided by passion.

“Doing something with enthusiasm, not because you have to, but because you want to. Not allowing the challenges and adversities in your life get in the way of your goals. Pursuing a cause with tireless diligence because you believe in it wholeheartedly,” he said. “Find your passion — whether it’s through your career, your hobby, or your family life. Use your skills to work for the cause you believe in, and, inevitably, you'll make the world a better place. “

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