This Doctor's on Fire
by Mary Hope Roseneau Photography by Christian Lee
Dr. Tracy Leaver-Williams
This Doctor’s on Fire
“She believed she could, and so she did.” These words encircle a painting of a semi-nude woman running through flames. This painting is in the office of Dr. Tracy Leaver-Williams, Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Hilton Head Regional Ob/Gyn Partners. She admits to being the artist, and is living proof of the quote as well. A tall, athletic woman with rich auburn hair, cut stylishly short, she shook my hand enthusiastically as we met. She was wearing a professional white top, but underneath were wild black and white checkerboard leggings with bright red lips scattered throughout. Red Mary Jane shoes completed the look—stylish, polished, with a little funky flair thrown in for good measure.
Tracy Leaver-Williams grew up in Michigan, married at 19, but by 20 had lost a baby and was no longer married. This difficult experience would greatly influence her life. At age 20, she marched into a recruiter’s office and enlisted in the United States Air Force. “How soon can I leave?” was her only question for the recruiter.
“Why Air Force?” I asked. Young Tracy had done her research: the shortest basic training, a higher percentage of women, more career opportunities and higher entrance requirements. Oh yes, and nicer uniforms. She credits the decision to join the Air Force as one of the best she ever made. “It gave me direction and focus,” she shared, as well as a career in medicine, starting out as a dental assistant. Watching and assisting the dentists, she thought, “I could learn this.” After seven years, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant, seeing a lot of the world, including an assignment in South Korea, she began her college education, with help from the military. She went on to receive her Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, where she met her husband Richard during her second year of medical school.
She decided to specialize in women’s health, working in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Vidalia, Georgia. She heard about Hilton Head Island from her boss in Vidalia, Shelley Harrell, who is now Marketing and Development Director at Hilton Head Hospital. Tracy and Richard and their three girls moved here last year, and have fit right into the rhythm of island life. They love the beach, the public schools and the diversity of the island. She states that she is happy that her girls get to know all kinds of people in their schools, the way the world really is, and learn to accept and appreciate them.
The girls, Alexa, 12, Tatum, 10, and Ceci, 5 are all active on the H2A Hilton Head Aquatics Swim Team, and Dr. Leaver-Williams is a proud swim mom. Weekends are scheduled around swim practices and meets, while mom still finds time to participate in runs, such as the recent Palmetto Bluff Half marathon. “I wasn’t the fastest runner there, but I did my own best time, so I was a winner,” she said.
Her goals center on family. Her wish is to raise her three girls to be responsible human beings, along with much help from her husband, who has a contracting business. Her oldest, Alexa, recently represented her school at a Model United Nations in Savannah and aspires to be an attorney.
Dr. Leaver-Williams’ practice in previous hospitals was mostly helping younger women and delivering babies. She likes the balance the Lowcountry brings in having a variety of patients spanning all age spectrums. She also enjoys the partnership with the Genesis Clinic at the hospital, which helps young women of all income levels obtain vitally important prenatal care. Her experience losing a baby has helped her understand the loss and grief her patients feel, she says. “But most of the time, it’s a much happier result,” she smiles.
The woman in the painting leaving those flames behind her, who believed she could, and did, is a happy woman. You can just tell.
Favorite family meal: Her husband does most of the cooking and he makes a mean chicken curry.
How she relaxes: In a big, old, comfy recliner chair she has in her office when she has to stay late.
What people would be surprised about: As much as she doesn’t show it, she does not like speaking in front of people.
Secret splurge: Dairy Queen Pecan Cluster Blizzard
Personal interests: Reading on her Kindle, running, painting in watercolors and acrylics.
Favorite quote: In addition to the one on her painting, another one is “Intelligence is not the most important thing. Ambition is.”