The Way We Were: James & Lee-Margaret Borland

The Way We Were: James & Lee-Margaret Borland
Christopher, Donia, Jim, Lee-Margaret and Skip Borland at the 50th anniversary of American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, New Orleans, 1991

For more than five decades, a prominent Jacksonville gastroenterologist and a nurse-turned-professional photographer have explored the world together, but James and Lee-Margaret Borland said they have one more continent to conquer.

Although he turns 84 in November and they celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary in December, asked what they still might like to do in the future, this couple who have surely visited almost every corner of the world are in agreement: a trip to Antarctica.

Lee-Margaret with her parents, 1938, Rye, New York

Lee-Margaret with her parents, 1938, Rye, New York

James Louden Borland, Jr. grew up in Ortega, where Borlands have lived since the mid-1930s. Lee-Margaret’s parents, on the other hand, emigrated separately from Germany to New York, where Maximilian Vogel from Bavaria met Elizabeth Sehnert from Hessen working behind the counter at Schrafft’s Restaurant in New York City.

Lee-Margaret Vogel was born in 1936 in Mt. Vernon, New York, where she attended first grade speaking no English and facing hostility and mistreatment because of her German heritage. The Vogels were part of a German-American gymnastic club that trained, performed and competed as the Mt. Vernon Turners (the German word “turnen” means “to perform gymnastic exercises”). Lee-Margaret was put on a balance beam at age three.

Max Vogel was an engineer and Park General Manager for the Rye Playland Amusement Park, one of the only government-owned amusement parks in the United States.

When Lee-Margaret was 10 years old, she returned from Girl Scout Camp to find that her mother had contracted polio and was hospitalized. Her mother was treated with the then-controversial Sister Elizabeth Kenny Treatment in Greenwich, Connecticut which rejected immobilization of polio patients’ limbs, in favor of exercise, stretching and continuous hot compress treatments. Her mother completely recovered and even returned to gymnastics.

Around this time, when Lee-Margaret was in elementary school, her father gave her a Brownie box camera, creating a lifelong interest in photography. In her teens, Lee-Margaret traded the Brownie for an Agfa 35mm camera.

The family moved to Briarcliff Manor, New York when Lee-Margaret was a high school sophomore; she was an honors student, cheerleader, played hockey and tennis, managed and swam on a synchronized swim team and was president of the swimming club. She graduated from Briarcliff College in 1956 with an Associate of Arts degree.

A career in nursing initially trumped Lee-Margaret’s interest in art and photography. While attending nursing school at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland, she met James Borland, who was studying medicine. Borland graduated in 1958 and began an internship at Johns Hopkins. After Lee-Margaret received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 1959 with honors, she remained there to teach senior nursing students.

Elizabeth and Lee-Margaret Vogel, with unknown woman at Nursing School graduation, 1962

Elizabeth and Lee-Margaret Vogel, with unknown woman at Nursing School graduation, 1962

In the fall of 1959 Borland invited Lee-Margaret for a Jacksonville weekend with his family on his father’s 33-foot Chris Craft cruiser, The Jackpot. They decided to boat up to Georgia.

“They always towed a smaller johnboat. One evening Jim asked me out for a boat ride, just the two of us in the small boat. I remember the moonlight and Jim proposing to me, but mostly I remember looking up and seeing a big shrimp boat barreling right down on us!” said Lee-Margaret.

Despite their near-disastrous proposal experience, on Dec. 17, 1960 the Borlands were married in a Baltimore, Maryland Presbyterian church and briefly honeymooned in Washington, D.C. Borland completed a gastroenterology fellowship at Duke University Medical Center in 1963, then couple moved to Jacksonville where Borland served as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. They moved into the Borland family home on Apache Avenue in 1968.

After completing his military service, Dr. Borland, Jr. entered private gastroenterological practice with his father, Dr. James L. Borland, Sr. in 1965. He is a former director of the Borland-Groover Clinic, founded by Borland, Sr. in the 1940s.

From the time they moved to Jacksonville, Lee-Margaret was active and held leadership positions in many charitable and civic organizations, enjoying what she calls “fun-raising” for charities. They were both Downtown Rotarians, and Borland was a Rotarian for 50 years, serving as president in 1997-1998.

“I did a great deal with the Duval Medical Society Auxiliary, Speech & Hearing Center, Heart Fund, the Children’s Museum and Guild when it was in Riverside, the Jacksonville Symphony Guild, the Women’s Garden Club, and I’m a sustaining member of the Junior League,” Lee-Margaret said. “I was elected the first woman president of the Mental Health Clinic of Jacksonville in 1977-78, was on its board of directors and was committed to that organization because it served as the safety net for ex-patients of the state mental hospital in Macclenny, now Northeast Florida State Hospital.”

In 1983 the Borlands hired Gerald “Jerry” Pope to build their Ortega Point home. The couple designed the floor plan and hired the late Iris (Owens) Carneghi, a local interior decorator. After the home was finished Carneghi offered Lee-Margaret a job.

“Iris was six years older than me but we were like sisters. I can’t imagine anyone working together and getting along better than we did,” she said. “We traveled to market twice a year, flying to Chicago and New York and driving to Atlanta, High Point, North Carolina and Dallas. I always drove and Iris was the commander-in-chief.”

Lee-Margaret is also a professional nature and wildlife photographer and has photographed images of children, elderly faces, flowers, gardens and wildlife all over the world. She has captured underwater scenes from seven continents and most of the world’s oceans, many islands and Caribbean reefs.

She has won awards and honors in art and photography festivals and shows throughout Florida and elsewhere, including Jacksonville’s Best of Award and Bold City Best awards for her art gallery and nature photography. Her photography has been widely published and displayed in more than 38 states and abroad.

Lee-Margaret keeps long, heartfelt letters her husband has regularly written and sent to her throughout their 56-year marriage. She said he has always been an especially caring husband and father.

“We always had a weekly date night no matter what was going on and did as many things together as possible,” said Lee-Margaret. “Throughout his career when the children were young, he always took one child with him to the hospital on his rounds and would spend time one-on-one with that child…Jim made time to spend with each of his children no matter how busy he was.”

The Borlands had three children: James “Skip” III; Donia Elisabeth, and Christopher Vogel, who was born prematurely and weighed less than three pounds. He struggled during his first year with infection, a hernia surgery and pneumonia, but lived to age 32, when he died in a tragic accident in 1998, leaving behind one son, Maximilian.

The Borlands enjoyed travel and one of their favorite frequent trips over three decades was to the Big Horn Ranches in north central Colorado, owned by good friend A.D. Davis, one of the Winn-Dixie founders.

Lee-Margaret and Jim Borland at Davis Ranch, 1969

Lee-Margaret and Jim Borland at Davis Ranch, 1969

“Jim had ridden horses during medical school when he worked at a summer job in Golden, Colorado, teaching children to ride. Jim’s father rode and had gotten him into leading pack trips over the Continental Divide. Jim always wore his father’s chaps,” said Lee-Margaret. “He took week-long trips out to work on the Davis ranches in spring when the calves were born. He rode on cattle drives, de-horned, castrated, branded and vaccinated cattle.”

Lee-Margaret had never ridden but after Davis put her on a horse, she learned to ride and began to accompany her husband out to Colorado.

“We started to return to Colorado in the fall for round-up time on the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands. We were in the saddle all day. I learned to give the cattle injections and got pretty good at that,” she said. “It was an unforgettable experience. We spent at least 25 years enjoying our cowboy life.  I will never forget the kindness of A.D. when my father died.  A.D. arranged for me to fly to Tampa from Colorado to be with my mother.”

During this period, in the 1970s, Borland was named the Young Internist of the year in 1972 by the American Society of Internal Medicine “in recognition of outstanding contribution to the practice of internal medicine by a physician under 40.”

The Washington Post Parade magazine featured a photo and article about Borland in September 1977 regarding his diet plan that permanently healed recurring ulcers in his patients.

He was named an Honorary Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Florida School of Medicine, 1979 – present. He was a clinical professor of medicine at UF School of Medicine and at UF Health Science Center in Jacksonville.

During his 31-year career, Borland was dedicated to research and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases, the teaching of medical students and residents and continuing medical education. After his retirement in 1996 from gastroenterology private practice and after two years of globe-trotting travel with his wife, in 1999 Borland embarked on a second career, working as Associate Chief of Staff for Outpatient Clinics at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System.

In 2000, Borland was awarded Mastership in the American College of Physicians (MACP), a lifetime honor awarded in recognition of personal character, positions of honor and influence, eminence in medical practice, medical research or other accomplishments in science and medicine.

During that time, Borland also served as CMO for the Jacksonville Clinic. He was responsible for management of nine outpatient clinics and a workforce of 700 clinical, support and administrative personnel, for which he received a Distinguished Career Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs. He retired for the second time in 2011.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

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