TUPELO, Miss.-Rhea Warren never believed much in taking breaks, but he’ll have plenty of time for them after retiring from North Mississippi Medical Center after 40 years in the Radiology Department.
Warren, an Aberdeen native, was accepted to X-ray school at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson while a student at Aberdeen High School.
“I graduated on a Friday and started X-ray school on Monday,” Warren said.
When asked what drove him toward his chosen profession, Warren said he was inspired by an uncle who was an X-ray technician and also by time spent in hospitals after being hit by a car. “It was just something that I wanted to do,” he said.
Warren served in the United States Army for four years, including a three year stint in Belgium, where he served as an X-ray technician. He left the service and Belgium on May 22, 1972, and started as an X-ray tech at North Mississippi Medical Center two weeks later on June 5.
At the time Warren started at NMMC, the hospital had three X-ray rooms. A fourth, for special procedures, was built in 1975 and Warren served as a special procedures technician. He eventually served as technical director for Radiology.
Warren also served on the MIS Project Team for Radiology through three different system implementations and for a time took care of patient billing and Medicare codes for Radiology for NMMC and the community hospitals.
Warren said one of the things he’ll miss most about working at NMMC is his job as unofficial doorman at the hospital’s North Employee Entrance.
“Some of my best times were holding the back door for people,” Warren said. “People thought I was crazy but I enjoyed it. I was there every morning, every single day for the last couple of years. They’ll have to get an automatic door now.”
Warren served in the Army National Guard for 12 years. He was the only X-ray tech in the Guard in the state of Mississippi during his service, which kept him busy.
He and his wife Joan have been married for 45 years and have lived in Tupelo since 1972. They have two children-son David Warren, a teacher in Columbus, and daughter Angela South, a certified nursing assistant-and six grandsons.
Warren’s post-retirement plans include volunteer work for the Salvation Army, fishing and cleaning up his yard and shop. “I’m about three years behind on that, at least,” Warren said.