If it had not been for Dr. Walter Sligh, Stephen Sligh’s father, the family might have been doing something other than chiropractic. As Dr. Walter told the story, when his mother was pregnant with him, she and J.E. Sligh were living in South Carolina where the elder Sligh was in newspaper work. Mrs. Sligh was very sick while carrying Walter and it seemed no physician could keep her well.
Mrs. Sligh finally decided to see a chiropractor. She responded to treatment and both she and her husband became so interested in the profession they decided to enter the field. In 1923, both graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa.
From South Carolina to Polk County
Dr. J. E. Sligh and wife, Dr. Emma A. Sligh, with six-year-old son, Walter, came to Lakeland in 1926 on a two week vacation. Dr. J.E., after one stroll through the downtown section, described the people he met as “the friendliest folks he’s ever seen” and decided to stay and set up practice in Lakeland. Everybody who was anybody met at the drug store over a cup of coffee each morning. If you passed a stranger on the street then they must have been new in town. That’s how it was when the Sligh family arrived in Lakeland, Florida. A dime would buy a loaf of bread or a pound of steak for the evening meal, and adjustments were six for five bucks.
Their first office was located over the old Jewett Drug Store corner of the Bryant Building at Main and Kentucky – then the “center of town.” Dr. J.E. later moved the office to a more accessible location at 214 South Lake Avenue, across from the then civic center, before building his new offices in 1930 at 312 South Kentucky Avenue. Dr. Walter, a graduate of Lincoln Chiropractic College in Indiana, joined his father in practice at this location in 1946. Dr. J.E. retired in 1957 and passed away in 1967. His wife, Dr. Emma, resided in Lakeland until her death in 1982.
The Third Generation
Giving way to city progress, the offices were moved to a new location at 425 South Florida Avenue. This was necessitated by the building of a new city parking garage on the entire block in which the Kentucky Avenue offices had been located. Dr. Walter practiced at this location and was joined in 1976 by the third generation Sligh, his son Dr. Stephen E. Sligh – a graduate of National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, Illinois. Dr. Steve Sligh began exactly 50 years after his grandfather began his practice in Lakeland, and 30 years after his father started his. The father and son, Walter and Steve, practiced together until Dr. Walter’s death in 1982.
In 2016 Dr. Sligh relocated his practice to The Lakeland Spine Center at 3242 South Florida Avenue. This new facility has allowed for increased and improved services including digital X-ray, decompression therapy, and readily available medical referral services for cases that may require that type of intervention. Office hours have essentially remained the same as have services that were already being offered.