Pack Hindsley ’66 remembers advice from his father: “Son, if you don’t succeed at something, it’s because you didn’t try hard enough.”
That advice served Pack—a high school valedictorian and three-sport athlete—until he took organic chemistry at Davidson College.
“No matter how hard I tried and studied, I needed help,” he said. “Davidson taught me about my strengths and vulnerabilities and how to cope with them – when I needed help and when I needed myself.”
Hindsley, a Davidson football Hall of Famer, also learned that he was “a hard working guy but not a super smart guy.” Be that as it may, his hard work has paid off.
Following medical school at the University of Virginia and service as a battalion surgeon during the Vietnam War, Hindsley specialized in urology and ultimately settled into private practice in Washington, North Carolina.
“One day, someone I went to medical school with told me about their mission in Haiti, and they needed a urologist,” he said. “[My wife] Janet and I started going on trips to Haiti, and we’d do about 30 operations in a week. What we got coming out of these trips was a whole lot more than what we gave the people there.”
Hindsley became known as Dr. Blanche—that is, Dr. White Man. With a specialty in both general and cancer urology, Hindsley was able to help people no one in Haiti could touch because they had not learned the skills to perform the necessary operations.
The outcome is a simple but life-saving one: People unable to urinate now could.
“You could go to this country and make a huge dent,” he said. “They appreciated me, and I fell in love with their lives at the same time.”
Service is a fundamental part of the Hindsleys’ life together. In addition to medical missions, they have been a part of the people-to-people program Friendship Force for 35 years, traveling and living with people in Brazil, Chile, Australia, Germany, Colombia, Japan, England and more.
“We are both religious people,” said Pack. “I can’t say I’ve heard God talk to me, but it seems like in times that I’m wandering and trying to make up my mind, I get an inspiration that tells me I’m where I’m supposed to be. One example: When I was in Japan, I learned about Zen Buddhists and how they ask God to show them the place from where they can see the world the way they’re supposed to see it. I get that, and I’ve been living my life that way without even knowing I was a Zen Buddhist.”
Davidson was a big part of teaching Hindsley to see the good in people and to take a positive, open outlook on life.
“So many of our classmates and those ahead or behind me in school–they don’t look at themselves too seriously,” he said. “Instead, they look at what they’re capable of doing and take THAT seriously. That’s the right way to live life.
“Davidson allowed me to strip away a bunch of things I thought about myself and rebuild a character submerged beneath it all. What I found out was that I had the stuff in me to do good.”
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