Donors honored at 4th annual Lifetime Achievement celebration

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette UPMC Susquehanna presented its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Awards Friday evening during the UPMC Susquehanna 4th annual Lifetime Achievement Awards Event at DiSalvo’s in the city. Top, from left: Lifetime Achievement Award winners Tim and Ruthanne Crotty; UPMC Susquehanna President Steve Johnson; Lifetime Achievement Award winners Dr. F. Ardell Thomas; and Shirley and George Durrwachter.

Out of appreciation for their many contributions, hard work and constant dedication over the years to local health care, many community members were honored during the Susquehanna Health Foundation’s fourth annual Lifetime Achievement Awards Celebration at DiSalvo’s Friday evening.

“Collaborative, visionary, influential, empathetic, innovative, grounded, ethical, and passionate. These are all characteristics our honorees possess,” said Sherry Watts, vice president of the foundation.

Jan Fisher, executive vice president and chief operating officer of UPMC Susquehanna, presented the first award of the evening to Dr. F. Ardell Thomas, who became the first internal medicine physician in Tioga County when he joined the medical staff at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital.

“The Physician Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an outstanding physician who demonstrated career-long service to patients, the medical profession and our community,” Fisher said. “(Thomas) guided the hospital through the quickly-evolving world of health care from multiple leadership roles, including president of the medical staff, chief of internal medicine and chief of the Intensive Care Unit.”

Since retiring in 2007, Thomas has served in many community programs as member of the Rotary Club, a director and past board chair of Eastern University, chairman of the Endless Mountain Music Festival and an adult Sunday school teacher for more than 30 years.

“Through his faith and passion for health care, he found mission work in the Dominican Republic, where he has been leading a team of medical professionals and construction workers to provide aid since 1985,” Fisher added.

Keith Kuzio, chairman of the board of Susquehanna Health Foundation, presented the Philanthropist Lifetime Achievement Award to George and Shirley Durrwachter.

The award honors individuals, families or businesses “with a proven record of exceptional generosity through direct financial support,” he said.

“I’ve known our honorees since I was a young boy sitting in an orthodontic chair,” Kuzio said. “Little did I know, the man who I looked up to from the chair would not only change my smile, but influence my life far into adulthood.”

“George, a retired orthodontist, and Shirley, a former nurse and volunteer at UPMC Susquehanna, were first inspired to give back after a personal tragedy — the loss of their young son,” he said. “Using money received through an insurance settlement, the Durrwachters made their first philanthropic donation to the Pine Creek Recreation Association toward a baseball field in their son’s memory and established an athletic award fund for a student scholar.”

Since, the Durrwachters have become Signature Donors to the Susquehanna Health Foundation. Most recently, they purchased a Victoria Simulator for The Birthplace at UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport, providing nurses with hands-on birth training using “the most realistic and interactive mannequin on the market,” Kuzio said.

Tim and Ruthanne Crotty were the recipients of the night’s final award, presented by UPMC Susquehanna President Steven P. Johnson.

“This year the President’s Award is focused on builders,” Johnson said. “Builders of businesses, of communities and of bridges — bridges not just across the water, but also bridges into the future.”

Tim Crotty served on the Susquehanna Health board of directors from 1990 to 2015, Johnson said. Outside the health field, Tim Crotty served on the board of the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors and as board chairman of the First Community Foundation of Pennsylvania, he added.

“Not to be outdone,” Johnson said, Ruthanne Crotty volunteered at Divine Providence and served on the board of directors for the Williamsport Home for more than 20 years, including as president for a term.

She is a longtime member of the Women’s Club of Williamsport and supports Preservation Williamsport, Johnson said.

As Signature Donors, the Crottys have donated “time, talent and treasure to support the financial and physical health of our regional community,” Johnson said.

They co-chaired the first Signature Gifts Committee from 2007 to 2010, and assisted with more than $8.5 million of pledges as part of the $15.5 million raised in the Count on Us for Life capital campaign, he said.

“Tim and Ruthanne are people of extraordinary integrity and outstanding character whose word is their bond and handshake is their promise,” Johnson said. “Tim and Ruthanne, you have made a great investment for yourselves, for your friends and family, and for future generations in northcentral Pennsylvania.”

Beyond acknowledging the work and contributions of certain community members, the foundation also honored many donors regionwide.

“An important part of this evening is recognizing our loyal and generous donors whose generosity we are beyond grateful for — truly our work wouldn’t be possible without you,” Watts said.

The list of major donors in the program represents more than $66.5 million dollars in contributions since 1984, she said.

“The impact you have made is tremendous and we thank you for your commitment to high-quality health care,” she said. “I hope you realize just how vital you are in meeting the health care needs of our region.”

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