WATCHING HIM TEND TO THE LAME and the afflicted at his modest clinic in one of Fort Worth’s poorest neighborhoods, you’d never guess that there was anything extraordinary about 74-year-old Edward W. Guinn. Since the late fifties, however, he’s been one of the few providers of health care for Stop Six, a grubby four-mile triangle of run-down homes and abandoned buildings on the southeast side of town. Stop Six was the name of a station on the Interurban Line that connected Fort Worth and Dallas in the early part of the century, and it’s as bleak as a war zone—and nearly as dangerous. When Guinn first set up shop there, the sound of sirens meant an ambulance was on its way with mangled and bleeding patients. On any given day he’d treat cops shot on the street and comfort fathers who walked in carrying dead babies. His staff still patches up the occasional bullet hole in the front door. “For years you couldn’t beg, borrow, or bribe doctors to come down here,” he says with a chuckle.
No one had to bribe Guinn, a trim, comfortable, good-humored man with a soft voice and gray hair and an easy smile that betrays no sense of sacrifice or self-importance. The grandson of James E. Guinn, a well-respected educator whose family moved to Fort Worth just after the Civil War, he grew up in a relatively prosperous black neighborhood a few miles away. Even today, the Guinns are among the city’s most prominent African Americans. His brother is also a doctor, as is one of his sons, and his sisters are retired teachers. He could be working out of one of the poshest suites in the medical district. So why did he choose a hellhole like Stop Six? “When I got my letter of acceptance to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 1952, it said, ‘This is in the nature of an endowment from the people of the state of Texas,’” he explains. “I don’t want to sound pious, but that carried with it a responsibility.”
In 1965, eight years after he opened his practice,