The 1800 block of Wharton Street will also be known as Walter P. Lomax, Jr., M.D., Way
PHILADELPHIA (AUGUST 26, 2021) –Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) was joined by friends, family and supporters of the late Walter P. Lomax Jr., M.D. at a ceremony renaming the 1800 block of Wharton Street in South Philadelphia “Walter P. Lomax, Jr., M.D., Way”.
The ceremonial street naming was done in recognition of Dr. Lomax’s philanthropy, leadership, dedication, and support of Philadelphia’s African-American community.
“Dr. Lomax was in many ways a renaissance man,” Councilmember Johnson said. “He was a role model to me growing up in South Philadelphia and he showed a fierce commitment to the economic empowerment of the Black community through his actions. His endeavors in health care, minority business development, and philanthropy paved a path for younger generations to follow. It was an honor for City Council to approve my resolution renaming this block in December 2020.”
The Lomax family expressed appreciation for the honor.
“Walter P. Lomax Jr., M.D. was born at home at 1936 Reed Street,” said Beverly Lomax, Dr. Lomax’s wife for over 55 years. “He grew up in South Philadelphia, where he was molded and nurtured by a loving community. Throughout his life he was most proud of growing up in South Philadelphia. He would be greatly honored by this street naming in a community he was deeply committed to.”
“We are grateful to Councilman Johnson for this amazing acknowledgment,” said Sara Lomax-Reese, Dr. Lomax’s youngest daughter and president and CEO of WURD Radio. “I remember going to my father’s office at 18th and Wharton as a child, visiting and working there during summers. He loved South Philly and took great pride in bringing exceptional medical services to this community. I’m sure he is smiling.”
Dr. Lomax started practicing medicine at the South Philadelphia Medical Center on the corner of 18th and Wharton Streets in 1958. While he began as a solo practitioner, he later expanded to a 22 physician group; developed Lomax Health Systems (LHS) Inc., a management company concentrating on health care; and Correctional Healthcare Solutions (CHS), which provided health services to correctional facilities around the country. He practiced in South Philadelphia and throughout the city for 32 consecutive years before selling his practices in 1990.
In 1968 Dr. Lomax was called upon to treat the late Civil Rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who, while traveling through Philadelphia, contracted an upper respiratory infection. Dr. Lomax treated Dr. King, who became one of the thousands of patients treated by Dr. Lomax during his decades as a medical doctor.
Dr. Lomax served as chairman of The Lomax Companies, which manages a global portfolio of private equity investments with particular emphasis on technology, communication and real estate. One of his most passionate business ventures was Philadelphia’s WURD Radio (900 AM/96.1 FM) which he acquired in 2002.
WURD is the only African-American owned and operated talk radio station in Pennsylvania, and one of few in the country.
The street dedication ceremony was held on the same day as WURD Radio’s annual Founder’s Day celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Lomax, who passed in October 2013 at the age of 81.
Among those scheduled to speak at the event were: Councilmember Johnson; Dr. Lomax’s wife Beverly, Ben Johnson, one of Dr. Lomax’s childhood friends; Pastor Alyn Waller, Senior Pastor, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church; Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent Hughes; poet extraordinaire Sonia Sanchez, legendary songwriter and music producer Kenny Gamble; John F. White Jr., President/Chief Executive Officer of The Consortium and former Pennsylvania Secretary of Welfare; Calvin Bland, Research Professor, Rutgers University/ New Jersey Health Initiatives; and Sara Lomax-Reese, daughter of Dr. Lomax and President/CEO of WURD Radio.
Born in South Philadelphia in 1932 as the youngest of four children, Dr. Lomax graduated from Central High School, LaSalle University and Drexel School of Medicine (then Hahnemann Medical College) before beginning a solo medical practice in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood (1936 Reed Street) where he had grown up.
In 1982, Dr. Lomax, a management company focused on healthcare called Lomax Health Systems (LHS), Inc. Over the years, he grew his practice into a multi-site group practice in Philadelphia and the suburbs consisting of 22 physicians. He was affiliated with Pennsylvania Hospital and Graduate Hospital and also served on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine.
In 1984, LHS won a medical services contract to recruit physicians and physician assistants to supplement the City of Philadelphia’s staff in the prison system. In 1990, Correctional Healthcare Solutions, Inc., was incorporated to specialize in the management and delivery of health services to correctional facilities. CHS emerged as a major participant in this industry, offering quality care while containing costs. When it was sold in October 2000, CHS was providing health care in 70 correctional facilities in 16 states.
In 1989, LHS joined forces with a firm in Virginia to form Healthcare Management Alternatives (HMA), Inc. HMA successfully won a then Pennsylvania Department of Welfare contract (HealthPASS) to provide health care to Medicaid recipients in South and West Philadelphia. From HMA’s success in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) licenses were issued in each of those states. In 1995, AmeriChoice was formed as a holding company for the three state HMOs, and was eventually sold to United Health Group Company.
In 2003, Dr. Lomax formed The Lomax Family Foundation (LFF) and served as its Chairman. The LFF provided funding for eligible non-profit organizations and programs that promote arts and culture, health and wellness, education and philanthropy in the African American community. LFF has had a significant impact on the Philadelphia region, not only because of the size of the financial support it offers to many programs and organizations but as one of a few African-American grantor foundations in the area.
During his lifetime, Dr. Lomax served on the boards of a number of prominent institutions. Among them are LaSalle University, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, the Philadelphia Orchestra, AmeriChoice of Pennsylvania, Universal Companies, and American Realty Capital. Dr. Lomax was also recognized for his achievements with honorary degrees from Neumann University and Lincoln University.
The Philadelphia Mural Arts program honored Dr. Lomax with a mural in 2000 near the corner of 23rd and Wharton Streets in South Philadelphia. In recent years, the mural has been blocked by the construction of new housing in the neighborhood. Councilmember Johnson is working with Mural Arts and the Lomax family to find a replacement location for the mural in South Philadelphia and to start painting it as soon as possible.
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, a former Pennsylvania State Representative, represents the 2nd Council District, which includes parts of Center City, South Philadelphia, and Southwest Philadelphia.
Photo Credit: WURD