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East Texas doctor honored with portrait in NYC

Dr. Leroy Collum spent his life serving others- even during the pandemic. After losing his battle with Covid-19, he is being honored for his sacrifice.
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Dr. Leroy Collum was an East Texas healthcare worker who lost his life to Covid-19. He was a man who, his family says, selflessly served others, even when he knew his own health was at risk.

“His patients needed him, and he needed his patients. And that’s what it really came down to,” says his son, Clayton.

From a preacher to a teacher, Dr. Collum served others through several different careers during his life. But, when he died, he was working as a geriatric psychologist.

“He really loved the nursing homes,” said his wife Diane. “He liked the elderly and liked helping them adjust to their life away from home.”

Dr. Collum passed away from Covid-19 in 2020. And now, about a year later, he is being honored for the sacrifice he made.

His portrait now hangs on the New York Life Building in New York City, as part of the Hero Art Project. It’s a partnership between the Brave of Heart Fund and ARTHOUSE.NYC to honor healthcare workers who gave their lives to help others during the pandemic.

“I felt like it was a big deal, honoring somebody like that, who risked their life to save the lives of others,” said Chris Clark, the artist who painted Dr. Collum’s portrait.

Clark said it was Collum’s smile that stood out from the photo he was given.

“I wanted to capture that energy he had,” said Clark. “I wanted to make sure I did him justice.”

“The portrait just really defined my dad, the colors that he used, it really just popped,” said his son, Carter.

According to his family, Dr. Collum had a larger-than-life personality and a heart for serving others.

“He was a story teller. A helper. He never met a stranger. Always loved to have people over for dinner. Always loved to give people gifts. Always loved to give people his time,” said Diane and Carter.

But most of all, they say it was his dedication to his patients that makes him a hero.

“People probably wouldn’t think of my dad, an eighty-something year old psychologist, as a hero,” said Carter. “But he knew what he was doing. He knew the risk he was taking. And we tried to talk him out of going to work at that time. However, it didn’t matter what we said. He knew that his patients needed him. And he knew that if he didn’t go see them, they were going to be there all alone. So, I think it’s very fitting that he put himself out there. He took the risk, and at the end of the day, he was a her, to those people and to us.”

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