Lillie Perry Atwater started a lifetime of service when she was just in the ninth grade. After finishing her school day at Lincoln High School, the young Chapel Hillian would start her part-time job at Memorial Hospital. She graduated in 1958 and worked to put herself through nursing school, continuing a passion for community health that has lasted up to today. Ms. Atwater retired as a nurse in 1996, three years after a breast cancer diagnosis put her on the other side of the examination table. That experience inspired her to become even more involved in community health service. She dedicated herself to raising breast cancer awareness locally, especially among Chapel Hill's African American population. Ms. Atwater has volunteered at UNC Hospitals' breast-imaging unit, and was recognized by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for her outreach work.
Ms. Atwater discusses her love for people which she learned from her mother: