For over 90 years, St. Mary's Medical Center has been serving residents of the Tri-State by providing quality healthcare in ways which respect the God-given dignity of each person and the sacredness of human life. St. Mary's Wall of Fame recognizes individuals who have been instrumental in carrying out this mission by providing the highest quality of care and service to the community.
Dr. Elmer Teofilo Vega came from humble beginnings in South America. But a drive he possessed from his youth led him to become not only a successful physician, but also an important figure in the history of medicine in Huntington.
Dr. Vega was born Feb. 9, 1928, in Bolivia. His parents realized he was gifted and sent him to a boarding school, where he received the best grades in his class. Dr. Vega earned a dental degree concurrently with his medical degree in 1957 from Universidad Mayor de San Simón in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Following completion of a family practice residency in the United States, an obstacle arose with his visa application. This led his wife, Mary, and three young children, to relocate to Canada. There he discovered anesthesiology, completing a residency in the discipline at McGill University in Montreal.
Upon coming to Huntington after being contacted about a position, Dr. Vega fell in love with the city’s brick streets and Marshall University. Motivated to help the area, Vega became Huntington’s first board-certified anesthesiologist.
Dr. Vega helped establish the first anesthesia group in Huntington and would later form Huntington Anesthesia Group, Inc. He performed the region’s first epidural anesthetic and helped pioneer St. Mary’s open heart surgery program, the first — and at the time only — program of its kind in Huntington. At St. Mary’s, he served faithfully as chief of the anesthesia department for 25 years. Dr. Vega was also instrumental in founding Marshall’s medical school. Education was extremely important to him, and he enjoyed training medical students and residents in anesthesia.
Known for his calming influence in the operating room, Dr. Vega was well-respected for not only his skill, but also his work ethic, high morals and compassion for his patients. He is still remembered for always taking time for people. Dr. Vega led by serving, believing that if he jumped in to help, others would follow. Dr. Vega’s dedication was to his faith first, his family second and then his profession. He never took credit for his success, always attributing it to God.
After his retirement, Dr. Vega spent the next decade making trips to his native Bolivia to provide free health care for families in his hometown.
Dr. Vega and Mary, his wife of 59 years, had three children — Mary Elizabeth, Michael and Magaly — and 14 grandchildren. Vega went to be with his Lord Jesus Christ June 16, 2016.
St. Mary’s Medical Center is proud to induct Dr. Elmer Teofilo Vega into our Wall of Fame.
Summarizing the life of William J. Echols, MD, is a fairly difficult task, as he was truly larger than life, always having a story to tell. His own story is one of great success as a cardiologist and as a pioneer in the Huntington medical community, making several important contributions that are still shaping Tri-State health care today.
Dr. Echols was born March 3, 1938, in Richwood, W.Va. He graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1960 with a double major in biology and chemistry, and in 1964, he earned his medical degree from West Virginia Wesleyan Medical School, making him the third generation in his family to become a physician. After post-graduate studies at the University of Iowa and the Mayo Clinic, Echols served his country as a captain in the United States Air Force as a base physician in Selma, Ala.
In 1970, Echols came to Huntington to join a practice with Dr. Herbert “Pete” Proctor and Dr. Zeb Burton. Dr. Proctor, who was also a physician for the Marshall University football team, died Nov, 14, 1970, in the Marshall plane crash. Dr. Echols himself was supposed to be on the plane, but did not make the trip to East Carolina. After Dr. Proctor’s death, Dr. Echols and Dr. Burton joined six other Huntington physicians to form Huntington Internal Medicine Group (HIMG).
Dr. Echols provided many firsts for cardiology in Huntington. He started the cardiac rehabilitation programs at the Huntington YMCA, St. Mary’s Hospital, and Cabell Huntington Hospital. Dr. Echols also developed the echocardiology, vascular duplex studies, and nuclear cardiology programs at HIMG and St. Mary’s. He also cared for the Pallottine Missionary Sisters at their infirmary at St. Mary’s and was very active with the Marshall University School of Medicine.
Having a true passion for his job, Dr. Echols never viewed his work as a chore. Patients recall him always having a smile on his face, as he loved helping people. Having seemingly boundless energy, Dr. Echols was almost always on the move, but if he was sitting still, he was reading. Continuous learning was extremely important to him, as evidenced through his philosophy group studies. Dr. Echols also loved to travel, taking his beloved wife of 56 years, Nancy Williams Echols, all over the world.
Though he was not born in Huntington, it truly became home for Dr. Echols and his family. He supported many organizations in the community, including the Huntington YMCA, the Huntington Museum of Art, and the Huntington Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Echols was also a member of Guyan Golf and Country Club, where he loved to play golf.
Dr. Echols and Nancy had three daughters: Elizabeth, Virginia, and Sandra, who was inspired by her father to become a fourth-generation physician. Echols passed away June 27, 2016.
St. Mary’s Medical Center is proud to induct William J. Echols, MD, into our Wall of Fame.
With more than 62 years of service as a Pallottine Missionary Sister and almost 60 years at St. Mary’s Medical Center, Sister Diane Bushee, S.A.C., has inspired and mentored thousands of St. Mary’s employees, students, and community members. Over the years at St. Mary’s she has served in a number of leadership roles helping to guide St. Mary’s Medical Center into the institution it is today. But maybe none of her roles has been more important than her current one, serving as the moral compass for all who enter the medical center.
Sister Diane was born December 24, 1934, in Princeton, W.Va. After helping her mother care for her ailing grandmother, she realized she, too, wanted to help those in need by becoming a nurse. In 1952, she came to Huntington to attend St. Mary’s School of Nursing. But Sister Diane’s plans were changed when she encountered Catholic Sisters for the first time at St. Mary’s. After seeing how the Sisters cared for the sick, she answered a calling from God to become a Sister herself. Her parents were against her decision, but the calling was too strong for her to ignore and she became a Pallottine Missionary Sister in 1953.
After her first profession as a Pallottine Sister in 1956, Sister Diane returned to St. Mary’s School of Nursing, where she graduated in December 1958, and went to work as a nurse at St. Mary’s. But her Pallottine superiors felt she had leadership potential and sent her to The Catholic University of America where she received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in nursing service administration. She was Associate Director of Nursing for 10 years before moving on to other administrative positions, always playing a key role in the expansion projects and other changes that grew St. Mary’s Hospital into St. Mary’s Medical Center. She also helped foster the growth of the St. Mary’s Department of Spiritual Care and Mission, allowing patients of all faiths and denominations to have their spiritual needs attended to in addition to their physical ones. And, she was Provincial of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters, overseeing the healthcare and educational ministries of the Sisters from 1977 to 1986.
In her current role as the Vice President for Mission Integration at St. Mary’s, Sister Diane is the voice of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, making sure that all administrators, clinical staff and non-clinical staff understand the importance of the directives. Each day, her mere presence is a reminder to all who enter the doors of St. Mary’s of the values the medical center stands for and was founded upon — Compassion, Hospitality, Reverence, Interdependence, Stewardship and Trust. At each new employee orientation, Sister Diane explains those values and the importance of employees reflecting them in their daily work.
Sister Diane has also been of great service to the community, providing emotional and spiritual support in times of tragedy, including after the collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, W.Va., in 1967, the Marshall University Football plane crash in 1970, and the Buffalo Creek, W.Va., flood disaster in 1972. She has also supported a number of community organizations and their humanitarian and healthcare efforts, including the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, United Way of the River Cities and the American Heart Association.
Still working tirelessly when most people would have long since retired, Sister Diane continues to heed the calling she first heard more than six decades earlier, not yet ready to leave St. Mary’s, the place she believes is exactly where God wants her to be.
St. Mary’s Medical Center is proud to induct Sister Diane Bushee into our Wall of Fame.
Dr. J. David Daniels was always interested in helping oncology patients with their pain—emotional, spiritual and physical. But he knew in order to help the whole patient, he would need to start with the physical pain and find new, better methods to treat it. And in finding those new methods, Dr. Daniels changed oncology care in the Tri-State forever, leaving a remarkable legacy that lives on each day at St. Mary’s Medical Center and beyond.
Dr. J. David Daniels was born January 23, 1941, at St. Mary’s. In 1963, he married the person he would later call the stabilizing force in his life, his wife, Peggy. The two met while they were both studying at Marshall University. Following in the footsteps of his father, Willard Daniels Sr., who was a physician in Westmoreland, Dr. Daniels received his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) in 1966. He completed an internship in internal medicine at the MCV, and then spent three years of training in internal medicine and oncology at the Cleveland Clinic. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he returned to Huntington in 1972 to join Huntington Internal Medicine Group (HIMG).
Dr. Daniels’ medical training was in oncology at a time the general public didn’t really know what the word meant. Cancer patients were scattered all over the hospital, making it more difficult for Dr. Daniels to talk to them. Many physicians told him that no one would go to a cancer ward because of the stigma of cancer. But Dr. Daniels persisted, and in 1978, with the help of the St. Mary’s nursing staff, he developed the oncology unit at St. Mary’s where cancer patients and their families found a true home.
But Dr. Daniels did not stop with just the unit. Convinced there was a better way to care for dying patients and help them with their pain, he and his St. Mary’s team introduced the ability to provide morphine orally—something many in the medical community felt could not be done. They began by squirting it into orange juice, but would later work with a local pharmacist to crush the tablets and stir them into cherry syrup. Dr. Daniels’ recognition of this early trend in pain management was a major advance for St. Mary’s patients. The methods soon moved to other floors of the hospital and eventually, the medical profession as a whole embraced the concept. As Chairman of the St. Mary’s Ethics Committee, with strong leadership from Sister Diane Bushee, Dr. Daniels also helped develop new end of life policies and procedures.
In 1981, Laura Darby, a nursing student working on her senior project, approached Dr. Daniels about helping to start a hospice program in Huntington. It was an offer Dr. Daniels could not refuse and in 1982, Hospice of Huntington began. In 1983, it hired its first paid employee, Charlene Farrell, who would later become its CEO. Dr. Daniels worked with Hospice for more than 26 years as it grew from a team of volunteer nurses into a thriving organization with more than 150 paid employees. In 2004, Dr. Daniels left HIMG to work at Hospice of Huntington full- time. Known for wearing his “No Pain” red button, as well as driving a car with a matching bumper sticker, Dr. Daniels retired as Hospice’s medical director in 2008.
St. Mary’s Medical Center is proud to induct Dr. J. David Daniels into our Wall of Fame.
John E. “Jack” Jenkins was known to be a quiet man, who only spoke when necessary. But his actions both in and out of the courtroom spoke volumes as, for more than five decades, he built a legacy of both legal excellence and community service that continues to grow even after his death.
Jenkins was born September 19, 1924, in Huntington, to the late John Earl and Kathleen Pitts Jenkins. He attended Davidson College and Brown University, and received an associate of applied business degree and bachelor of laws from the University of Virginia, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Theta Chi. A veteran of World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Corp.
Admitted to the West Virginia State Bar in 1950, Jenkins joined his father in practicing law in Huntington, helping to grow the prominence of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC. During more than five decades of practice, Jenkins gained the deep respect of his peers and was often ranked among the best lawyers in America. Known for his ability to ask just the right questions to find the key to a case, Jenkins argued several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. During the 1960s and 1970s, he performed legal work for Ashland Oil as it grew into a global entity. Jenkins mentored hundreds of attorneys during his career, both at his firm and as an instructor for 15 years at West Virginia University College of Law. In 2002, the College of Law awarded him the Justicia Officium Award, the College’s highest honor, for his outstanding contributions and service to the legal profession.
In addition to his impact on the legal profession, Jenkins left a legacy of dedicated service to the Huntington community, believing it was his duty to give back to the community in which he lived and worked. Over the years, he was involved in more than a dozen membership and charitable organizations, including the Huntington Museum of Art, the Huntington YMCA, the Marshall Artist Series, the United Way, and the Boy Scouts of America. During the 1990s, Jenkins served as the attorney on the St. Mary’s Ethics Committee, offering tremendous help to the Sisters in developing policies for the medical center to stay current with changing legislation and regulations. Jenkins was extremely committed to his role with St. Mary’s, rarely missing a meeting in nearly a decade of service. He also occasionally provided legal representation to the medical center.
A gentleman in every way, Jenkins practiced law not as a job, but as a calling, treating each client as if he or she were the only case he had. A licensed private pilot, he was an avid traveler, enjoying scuba diving, sailing and golfing. A man of strong faith, he was a member, Sunday School teacher and Elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Huntington. Jenkins was the father of three sons: John, James and Evan. He passed away July 4, 2008.
St. Mary’s is proud to induct John E. “Jack” Jenkins into our Wall of Fame.
Throughout his life, Dr. Melville Homer Cummings, Jr. was a servant to others - to his faith, to his family, to his patients and to the community.
Cummings was born January 6, 1920, in Glen White, West Virginia, the oldest son of Melville Homer Cummings, Sr., a Methodist minister, and Mary Kacmar, a missionary. His childhood followed the path of his parents’ ministry and service to congregations across West Virginia, in Ceredo, Fayetteville, Glen White and Williamstown. While in Williamstown, he met Marjorie Fenton, to whom he was married for nearly 60 years.
Given his humble beginnings, Cummings put a premium on education, both in his own life and for others. In 1936, coal mogul William McKell unexpectedly gave Cummings $1,000 to pursue college. Cummings attended New River State College and received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Marshall College in 1940. He began his medical studies at West Virginia University and in 1944, graduated from Northwestern University Medical School. Cummings also completed medical training at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, and Laird Memorial Hospital in Montgomery, West Virginia.
As part of the “Greatest Generation,” Cummings had a fierce commitment to serving others, which included service to his country. In 1946, Cummings became the Chief of Surgery at the 62nd Field Hospital in Rheinau, Germany, and later at the 279th Station Hospital in Berlin. Cummings also provided medical services to World War II war criminals at Spandau Prison in Berlin.
Upon his return from his military service, Cummings set down roots with his family in Huntington in 1948. He completed his surgical residency at St. Mary’s Hospital and, in 1950, he formed a partnership with Dr. William Irons. Cummings served as a member of the St. Mary’s surgery department for more than 50 years. One of his many areas of expertise was the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
For Cummings, his service to his faith extended beyond the pews of First United Methodist Church. He prayed with his patients before each surgery. He was a good samaritan which was often demonstrated in his willingness to help unwed mothers, patients or someone in need with housing, employment, education or finances. In 1975, Cummings and his wife Marjorie opened their home to a Vietnamese refugee who became their eighth child.
Cummings’ service to the community was often in support of education. He and his wife Marjorie established scholarships at West Virginia Wesleyan College, Alderson-Broaddus College and Marshall University. Other scholarships were established through First United Methodist Church in Huntington. He was a member of the Cabell County Board of Education from 1953-1960 and was a trustee at West Virginia Wesleyan College from 1959-1992. In 1997, he received the West Virginia Wesleyan College Rhododendron Award, which honors West Virginians who have brought distinction and honor to their state or have given extraordinary service to the College. Cummings was also a professor of surgery at Marshall, where in 2000 he received the Faculty Humanism in Medicine Award from the Marshall University School of Medicine. The award was later named in his honor.
Homer and Marjorie Cummings were the proud parents of eight children: Mel, John, Fenton, Norma, Lillian, Martha, Jim and Loan, as well as 30 grandchildren.
Cummings died on July 5, 2001, after caring for patients earlier in the day. As one of the Sisters attending his funeral observed, “He died with his boots on.”
St. Mary’s Medical Center is proud to induct Dr. M. Homer Cummings, Jr. into our Wall of Fame.
For 32 years, the leader ship of William Sol Sheils, MD, was strongly felt throughout St. Mary’s Hospital. But Sheils’ influence extended far beyond the hospital’s walls. Sheils helped shape the face of health care throughout the tri-state area, building a legacy of community service that continues to grow today, even after his passing.
Sheils was born June 17, 1935, in Huntington. From a young age, he knew he wanted to be a doctor. He received his bachelor of science degree from Marshall College in 1957 and his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in 1960. After an internship in Springfield, Ohio, and residencies in internal medicine at Cabell Huntington Hospital and Indiana University, he returned to his hometown to practice as a cardiologist. Sheils also served as a physician and lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army at Ft. Knox during the Vietnam War. In 1965, Sheils was appointed to the medical staff of St. Mary’s Hospital. At St. Mary’s, he assisted in the development of the first Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and provided critical care training for nursing and others as the unit was developed. Sheils served on a number of committees and held several leadership positions at St. Mary’s during his 32 years of service. As the chair of the electrocardiography panel for decades, he administered tests that other physicians would have to pass.
In 1969, Sheils and Drs. Charles Turner, Russell Cook and Roland Burns formed a medical practice in Huntington. After several of the city’s physicians died in the 1970 Marshall University plane crash, their practice merged with four other doctors to form Huntington Internal Medicine Group, creating the first medical practice with primary, specialty and sub-specialty care in the state. Sheils served as the president of HIMG for several decades and was intimately involved in its growth over the years.
A major supporter of Marshall University athletics, Sheils and some of his partners provided the teams with physicals prior to the start of the school year and saw the athletes as needed during the year — long before Marshall established its own formal sports medicine program. Throughout his career, Sheils continued to perform physicals and cardiac exams for team members. For his efforts, he was inducted into the Marshall University Sports Medicine Hall of Fame in 2007.
Although his community service achievements were extensive, Sheils was most well-known for his compassion for his patients, always taking the time to listen to their concerns and needs. After his retirement in 1997, many of his former patients spoke to him and his family members about how much they missed his caring manner. Sheils was also known for being a man of strong faith, a trait he shared with his wife of 56 years, Barbara, and passed on to their five children William, Douglas, Geoffrey, Susan and David. Sheils passed away October 28, 2012.
St. Mary’s Medical Center is proud to induct Dr. William Sol Sheils into our Wall of Fame.
Kirk Jamieson David, MD, grew up in Idaho – thousands of miles from Huntington, W.Va. But he ended up making his home in the Tri-State because he found it to be a place where he could truly make a difference. And at St. Mary’s Hospital, he found kindred spirits in the Pallottine Sisters, who believed, as he did, that everyone in need should receive care.
Dr. David was born May 20, 1919, in Moscow, Idaho. He graduated from the University of Idaho in 1942 and then completed medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City in 1945. After completing an internship in Chicago, Dr. David served an extended assignment in Korea as a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
Dr. David returned home to Moscow from Korea to work as a general practitioner. But after a year, he realized general practice wasn’t what he wanted to do, so he moved to Boston for surgical training at Tufts University.
In 1952, Dr. David moved to Huntington so he could join St. Mary’s as a general surgeon. He chose Huntington because he wanted to practice where there was a real need for his specialty. He also appreciated that Marshall University was available for his children’s college education and St. Mary’s and the established Catholic parishes in Huntington provided a spiritual home for him and his family.
While at St. Mary’s, Dr. David served on many committees, including the Credentials Committee, which he chaired in 1972. He was the hospital’s Chief of Staff in 1970, when the plane carrying 75 Marshall University football team members, coaches and supporters crashed. On that night, Dr. David helped rally the staff to provide emotional comfort and care in addition to using their training to deal with the disaster.
Charity toward all was the guiding principle of Dr. David’s office practice, his work with patients and staff at St. Mary’s and also his personal and family life. He would take any patient, regardless of ability to pay, following a philosophy he shared with the Pallottine Sisters: All are welcome, they only need to be in need.
Dr. David’s wife, Rosemary, was also a strong supporter of St. Mary’s, helping found the St. Mary’s Auxiliary in 1954 and serving as its first president. They had five children: Kathleen, Marguerite, Joseph, Kirk, Jr. and Maureen.
Dr. David retired in 1991 after 39 years of service. In 2007, Dr. David’s family continued his work by making the inaugural contribution to the St. Mary’s Pallotti Fund, which provides financial assistance for patients and employees in need. The gift officially opened the fund to private, tax-deductible contributions. Dr. David passed away July 31, 2008.
St. Mary’s Medical Center is proud to induct Dr. Kirk Jamieson David into our Wall of Fame
From a very young age, Barbara Jo Bales Stevens knew she wanted to be a nurse. She did fulfill that dream and became a wellrespected and well-loved caregiver. However, she also became an excellent teacher of nurses and her 39 years of nursing instruction at St. Mary’s School of Nursing allowed her to leave a major impact on not only St. Mary’s, but also health care across the region. She continues to add to her legacy today with her continued support of St. Mary’s Medical Center and the St. Mary’s Foundation.
Stevens was born October 12, 1938, at home in Beckley, W.Va. As a young girl, she would watch across the street as her friend’s aunt put on her nurse’s cap and cape and headed off to work at a tuberculosis sanitarium. Stevens admired the aunt so much for her bravery that she knew she never wanted to be anything else but a nurse.
Because she liked Huntington and she knew several students already enrolled, Stevens chose to pursue her dream at St. Mary’s School of Nursing. While working as a student nurse in orthopedics, Stevens met her husband, James, who was a patient. The school’s students — who were all female — were not allowed to get married and would be expelled if they did and were discovered. Barbara and James took the chance and married anyway in May 1958.
Stevens graduated from St. Mary’s in September 1959. She went to work on the orthopedics floor as a nurse, but the floor supervisor needed someone to help with clinical instruction and Stevens was up to the challenge. For 39 years, Stevens taught classes in fundamentals, medicalsurgical, pharmacology and many other subjects.
Because the educational requirements to be a clinical instructor kept changing, Stevens attended college either part time or full time for over 30 years — all while raising a family and working full time.
Plus, Stevens rarely missed the activities of her two children, Greg and Mary Beth. She would later say the only thing she gave up was sleep. Stevens earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree from Marshall University and a master’s degree from West Virginia University. She also earned a doctorate at WVU, making her the first nurse at St. Mary’s to receive one.
In 1988, Stevens became the director of the St. Mary’s School of Nursing. Her tenure in the position was a time of significant transition for the school. She led the school through its change to a two-year program and she led the school’s process of affiliation with Marshall University. Stevens also organized and chaired the first nursing research committee and was instrumental in the planning and implementation of the first St. Mary’s employee health clinic.
In 2001, Stevens retired after 41 years at St. Mary’s, but her connection with the medical center did not end there. In 2003, Stevens accepted the invitation to serve on the board of the newly created St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation. Stevens served as the vice chair of the Foundation’s Center For Education capital campaign, helping to raise money for a new School of Nursing, her first love. She also accepted an invitation from her mentor and idol, Sister Celeste Lynch, to join the board of Pallottine Health Services, Inc. — the first laywoman to serve. Stevens would later say she was overwhelmed by the request and considered it a true privilege and honor.
Stevens continues to help her beloved school by working to build the School of Nursing Alumni Association, serving on the alumni board for over 30 years. A member of the St. Mary’s Alumni and Faculty Circle, Stevens is unwavering in her support of the place she believes she owes so much.
St. Mary’s Medical Center is proud to induct Barbara Stevens into our Wall of Fame.
Dr. Turner has practiced medicine at St. Mary's for more than 40 years. With certifications in both gastroenterology and internal medicine, Dr. Turner served as St. Mary's Chief of Medicine from 1973 to 1982, President of the Medical Staff from 1993 to 1995 and as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 1999. Today, he continues to serve as a courtesy staff member and as a personal physician to the Pallottine Sisters.
Dr. Sakhai practiced neurosurgery at St. Mary's from 1965 until 2000. He was a member of Huntington's fi rst neurosurgical practice. Dr. Sakhai served as St. Mary's Chief of Surgery from 1983 - 1987 and its Chief of Neurosurgery from 1975 to 1976 and again from 1982 until 1992. At St. Mary's, he was the fi rst neurosurgeon to introduce and perform many new surgeries and techniques. In 1989, he invented a technique to better control bleeding during scalp incisions that is still used by physicians today.
Sister Celeste graduated from St. Mary's School of Nursing in 1950. She was the director of the school from 1959-1976. She served as the President of Pallottine Health Services, the parent corporation of St. Mary's and St. Joseph's Hospital in Buckhannon, WV, from 1995 until her retirement in 2012 at the age of 88. Sister Celeste passed away in December 2012.
Tyson was the "house attorney" for St. Mary's for 35 years. He was instrumental in bringing about the successful expansion of St. Mary's during the 1960s, which required the rerouting of First Avenue. Tyson also served on the Advisory Board of the St. Mary's School of Nursing.
Reger was the first student to graduate with a Diploma in Nursing from St. Mary's School of Nursing in 1927. She was a surgical nurse for five years at St. Mary's before leaving to become a full-time mom. Twenty years later, after her children were grown, Reger returned to St. Mary's to become an emergency room nurse. She passed away in June 1992.
Sister Madeleine served as the comptroller at St. Mary's for 43 years. Her financial acumen steered St. Mary's Hospital through the turbulent 1940s. After her retirement in 1983, she served as the Director of Volunteer Services for eight years. For 66 years, from 1938 until 2004, Sister Madeleine served as the Provincial Treasurer for the Pallottine Missionary Sisters. She died in March 2011 at the age of 100.
Dr. Touma performed more than 7,000 surgeries as an ear and hearing specialist at St. Mary's Hospital. Dr. Touma patented 15 different medical instruments and pieces of equipment used in ear surgeries. All were considered improvements in existing technology now widely used by surgeons across the United States. As Chairman of the Credentials Committee at St. Mary's for more than 25 years, Dr. Touma helped ensure the hospital had quality physicians in every specialty. He also served as President of the Medical Staff from 1988 through 1990. In addition to his work as a physician, Dr. Touma is credited with helping lead a revitalization of downtown Huntington.
Sister Monica spent more than 60 years in the health care ministry, tending to both the physical and spiritual needs of patients. She served as Chief Administrator for St. Mary's Hospital from 1959 until 1966. She also started the pastoral care program at St. Mary's and helped establish the first cancer program in the Tri-State at St. Mary's in 1965. Sister Monica died in July 2007 at the age of 88.
Dr. Burns helped establish the first intensive care units at St. Mary's Hospital. He also developed advanced training and education for nurses and physicians at St. Mary's that helped maintain a high quality of care for patients. He joined with three other physicians in 1969 to form a group physician practice that would later become the largest private physician group in the state of West Virginia - a group that would eventually be known as Huntington Internal Medicine Group (HIMG). Dr. Burns died in April 1978.
A remarkably talented plastic surgeon, Dr. Kappes literally changed the lives of countless children and their families in the Tri-State area. For many years, he was the only surgeon in the community who performed corrective surgery on children with cleft palates and harelips. The families of many of his young surgery patients couldn't afford to pay, but he performed the corrective surgery anyway. On the medical charts for his free patients, he would carefully write the letters "AMDG" - short for "Ad maiorem Dei gloriam," which is Latin for "To the Greater Glory of God." He died in December 1979.
Dr. Holbrook pioneered neuroscience in Huntington, establishing the city's first neurosurgical practice and serving as Chief of Neurology and Neurosurgery at St. Mary's Hospital from 1961 to 1970. He established the hospital's original unit in electroencephalography in 1951 and was President of the Medical Staff in 1964. Dr. Holbrook died in January 2004.
Dr. Harrah founded the cardiac surgery program at St. Mary's Hospital and was a key figure in the program for more than 20 years. Today's highly successful heart program at St. Mary's is, in a very real sense, his legacy to the hospital and to the community. On September 27, 1979, Dr. Harrah performed the first open-heart surgery in the Tri- State area. By 1999, a total of 7,000 heart surgeries had been performed at St. Mary's with Dr. Harrah involved in 4,000 of them - a truly remarkable record.
Until his death in 1962, St. Mary's had no greater friend and supporter than Bishop Swint of Wheeling. In June 1923, Bishop Swint invited the Pallottine Missionary Sisters to open a hospital in Huntington. When the hospital opened November 6, 1924, Bishop Swint blessed the building and placed it under the protection of Mary, the Mother of God. From that moment, the institution was known as St. Mary's Hospital. On the 50th anniversary of his ordination, Pope Pius XII conferred on Bishop Swint the title of Archbishop. The title is traditionally conferred on Bishops whose Dioceses have been declared an Archdiocese, and it is highly unusual for a Bishop of a Diocese to receive the honor.
Soltis was St. Mary's first lay administrator-a post he held from 1964 until his retirement in 1989. It was the first time in West Virginia that a layman had been appointed chief executive officer of a Catholic hospital and one of the very few instances of such departure from tradition in the United States. Under Soltis' leadership, St. Mary's grew from a modest-sized community hospital into a regional health care giant. Soltis passed away in December 2012.
In 1933, Dr. Scott opened a Crippled Children's Clinic at St. Mary's Hospital, where he cared for hundreds of children at no charge. Not confining his efforts to the clinic, he packed his medical kit in his car and set off on frequent visits to nearby rural areas to care for poor children in need. In 1941, Dr. Scott served as Chief of Staff at St. Mary's. After serving in World War II, he returned to Huntington to reestablish his orthopedic practice. He served as Chief of Orthopedics at St. Mary's from 1955-1956 and again in 1961. He retired from practice in 1967 and died in 1974.
Upon becoming St. Mary's Chief of Radiology in 1964, one of Dr. Dransfeld's first initiatives was the formation of the St. Mary's School of Radiologic Technology. Dr. Dransfeld's vision was for St. Mary's to be the first in the area to have the latest innovations in radiology, so he brought to Huntington CT (computed tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), radiation therapy, ultrasound and mammography. He served as St. Mary's Chief of Radiology until his retirement in 1996. Dr. Dransfeld passed away in 2006.
St. Mary's owes Dr. Conaty a debt that can never be repaid - a debt of gratitude for the key role he played in establishing the hospital's reputation for quality, family-centered maternity care. Dr. Conaty rose to become Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Mary's. At one point, when other doctors had left the hospital to practice elsewhere, he held the hospital's obstetrics and gynecology department together as a one-man operation, working around the clock until new doctors could be recruited. Dr. Conaty also gave his time every Wednesday for 40 years at the hospital's indigent clinic for OB/GYN patients. Dr. Conaty died in 1999.
For more than 25 years, Brown was a major figure in Huntington's growth and development and was one of the best friends St. Mary's was ever fortunate enough to have. He held a number of increasingly important posts at the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway before being named Superintendent of the C&O shops in Huntington. In 1920, he left C&O to work at the new International Nickel Co. plant. From 1944 until his retirement in 1952, Brown was the plant's general manager. When St. Mary's named its first Lay Advisory Board, Brown became its chairman-a post he held until his death in 1955.
In June 1927, Dr. Beard became the first intern at St. Mary's Hospital. As the hospital's only intern, he had to work both day and night. He insisted on being called for every emergency and didn't like it when the Sisters didn't call. After serving in World War II, he returned to St. Mary's, where he was Chief of Staff in 1952. In 1947, he became Medical Director of the St. Mary's School of Nursing-a position he served in until his death in 1963.