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Community mourns loss of healthcare leader

Health care has lost one of its most devoted and fervent friends.

The death of John Little, South Alabama Rural Health Association founder and CEO, leaves a void in rural health care, not just in Pike County, but throughout the Southeast.

That void can never be filled said, Dr. Ben Smith, SARHA Doctors Center.

“John Little founded the SARHA organization 38 years ago,” Smith said. He brought excellent health care to Troy and he brought it for all people.

“From the very beginning, he was dedicated to providing outstanding health care. His desire, his mission was for SARHA to be the provider of choice for all of those in need of medical services regardless of one’s ability to pay.”

Smith said Little strove for and achieved excellence in health care and he instilled that desire for excellence in all those around him.

“Caring for others and providing the highest quality of health care possible were his calling,” Smith said. “He was an advocate for cancer and other causes. He was instrumental in raising money in support of them.

“John was a leader and he inspired others to do their best and be their best. He wanted all of us at SARHA to be active in our churches and in the community. Those of us who worked for him, with him, didn’t want to leave. I’ve been with John for 21 years and I said I would never leave. John made all of us better medical professionals people and I’ll always be grateful for his leadership.”

Smith said he didn’t know of anyone more dedicated to his profession, his family or his friends than Little.

“I don’t know of a better man or more caring man than John. He loved life and he loved taking care of people,” he said. “He had a passion for life that he exhibited as a husband, father, grandfather, mentor and friend.

“His love was unconditional.”

Little initially came to Troy to work for the Charles Henderson Child Health Center. He later was able to obtain federal grant money and broke away from the CHCHC to create SARHA, said former Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford.

“John was innovative and he was knowledgeable about how to secure grants,” Lunsford said. “He did so much to further health care here in Troy and throughout Southeast Alabama. He was very good at what he did and the people of Pike County and beyond benefitted greatly from his knowledge and caring. John Little did a lot of good and his legacy will continue through the good works done at SARHA.”