Banister-Lieblong Clinic: “Looking Back”

Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.

Just off Dave Ward Drive there are a number of medical offices that make up Conway Regional Medical Park. One of the oldest clinics, the Banister-Lieblong Clinic, houses the offices of a number of Conway physicians—none of whom are named Banister or Lieblong! So here’s the story…

The Banister-Lieblong Clinic has only been on Dave Ward Drive since 1999. The original Banister-Lieblong Clinic was located on the southwest corner of North and Parkway in downtown Conway. It was opened in 1961 by Dr. B.F. Banister Jr. and Dr. Keller Lieblong.

Dr. Benjamin Frederick Banister, Jr. (1922-1977) was a physician and surgeon in Conway until his retirement in 1968. He was the son of Dr. B.F. Banister, Sr., who practiced medicine in Guy for 40 years. He graduated from Guy-Perkins and ASTC before receiving his medical degree from the UA School of Medicine.

Dr. Talmidge Keller Lieblong (1913-1972) was also from Guy. His father, R.I. Lieblong, was a long-time merchant in there. His uncle, Dr. John S. Lieblong (1880-1951) was a well-known physician who practiced medicine in Greenbrier for 40 years.

Dr. Keller Lieblong attended ASTC before entering the UA School of Medicine in Little Rock. After an internship in Little Rock, he entered the Army Medical Corp in 1944, serving as an Army Air Force captain. He was stationed in Hawaii and Japan during World War II and married his wife, Violet Alexander of Michigan, while he was stationed in Hawaii.

In 1947, Lieblong opened up a medical office above the First State Bank on Front Street. This building had formerly housed the Bank of Conway and was built by George Donaghey. His wife assisted him in the management of his office. He had one of the largest medical practices in Conway, keeping long hours at his office and seeing scores of patients every day. He also made house calls into rural areas as death thinned out the number of doctors who once served these areas.

Lieblong was very involved in the community. He served on the Conway School District Board of Education for three terms and served on the finance committee of the First United Methodist Church where he was a member.

In 1960, Dr. B.F. Banister, Jr. invited his first cousin, Dr. Bob G. Banister, to join the new clinic on Parkway when it opened in 1961. Dr. Bob Banister attended Greenbrier schools but graduated from Forrest City High School. He graduated from ASTC in 1954 and from the UA School of Medicine in 1958. He interned at Arkansas Baptist Hospital and then completed his residency at E.W. Conway Memorial Hospital in Monroe, Louisiana in 1960.

“Dr. Bob,” as he was known by many, would be a physician and surgeon in Conway for 28 years. He served as the Faulkner County Coroner for 25 years starting in 1965. He served as the school and team physician for SCA, then UCA, from 1969 until 1987. He was also the team physician at Hendrix College.

Dr. Bob was very instrumental in the development of Conway Regional Medical Center, serving on the board of directors from 1981 to 1987. He was elected president of the Arkansas Board of Health in 1979 and served as chairman of the board’s Executive Committee.

Dr. Bob was also provided leadership for other community organizations. Elected in 1982, Dr. Bob served on the Conway School District Board of Education until 1988. He was also a deacon and trustee of First Baptist Church. In 1984, he was named to the First State Bank board of directors. He also served as a board member and president of Central Arkansas Savings and Loan.

In March, 1972, Dr. Keller Lieblong died unexpectedly of a heart attack. After Dr. Lieblong’s death, Dr. Bob invited Dr. John Smith to join him at the Banister-Lieblong Clinic soon after that. Dr. B.F. Banister, who had given up his practice by this time, passed away after an extended illness in 1977.

Dr. Bob passed away in 1989 after a long bout with cancer. His son, Brad, returning to Conway several years ago, set up a dental practice. Dr. Bob’s wife, the former Janice Purtle, still resides in Conway. Dr. John Smith still practices medicine at the Banister-Lieblong Clinic.

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