Nanticoke Memorial Hospital pays tribute to philanthropist and former employees

By Lynn R. Parks

Louise Riddle Hansen had a way with nervous expectant mothers. She knew just the right things to say to calm them down. So said Dr. John Rawlins at the fourth annual Nanticoke Health Services tribute dinner, held Thursday evening at Heritage Shores, Bridgeville. "I know this," Rawlins added, "because my wife, June, happened to be one of those mothers." Hansen, 90, went to work in the maternity department at Nanticoke in 1953, the year after the hospital opened. She retired in 1984 and until recently, volunteered at the hospital. She received one of two Nanticoke Founders Awards that were handed out at Thursday night's dinner. "You don't know how many babies this lady delivered and some of us doctors got credit for," Rawlins said. Hansen told the group of about 215 people that she was especially proud of the fact that she founded the hospital's pastoral care program. "That is one of the things I would like people to remember me for," she said. Also given a Founders Award was the late William Allen "Skip" Hastings, for whom the Hastings Wing of the hospital is named. Hastings, who died of cancer in 1960 at the age of 50, was instrumental in the formation of Seaford's First Aid Squad, a forerunner of the hospital. "His final days were spent in the very hospital to which he contributed so much," said Rex Mears, member and past president of the Nanticoke board of directors. "The contributions he made are still strongly felt today." "Thank you for remembering the sacrifices we all made in working to bring a medical center to Seaford," Hastings' widow, Mary Jane Hastings Miller, said in a statement read by her daughter, Carole Carpenter, Milford. Miller, 95, is a resident of Harbor Health Care, Seaford, and could not attend the tribute dinner. "I'm sure that right now, Mother is lying in bed, thinking about this and wishing she was here," Sylvia Walker, Rehoboth Beach, Miller's other daughter, said. Also during the tribute dinner, two retired doctors were inducted into the Nanticoke Physician Hall of Fame. General surgeon Mario M. Rosales retired in 2000 and radiologist Martin J. Cosgrove retired in 2006.

"I am truly humbled by the stature of the physicians whom I join in the Hall of Fame," Cosgrove told the audience. "It is an honor to be included in the list of these physicians who served the community so well," Rosales added. "I feel humbled. And I wish that I had done much more." Cosgrove said during the tribute dinner that in 1974, he was headed back to Los Angeles, where he had a general practice, from the University of Maryland, where he had just completed a residency in radiology, when he had a change of heart. "My car broke down," he said. "Then I started to have doubts about relocating so far from my family in Philadelphia." He decided to give Nanticoke a one-year trial. "That one year became 32 years," he said. "My entire radiology practice was spent right here." During his time at Nanticoke, Cosgrove served for 15 years as chairman of the radiology department and for 25 years on the hospital board. In introductory remarks, Dr. Joseph Olekszyk said that before his retirement, Rosales was the "moral compass of the medical staff." "When Mario is your doctor, you are safe and well cared for," Olekszyk added. "When Mario is your friend, you have a friend for life." Rosales came to Nanticoke in 1972. During his tenure, he served as president of the medical staff and as chairman of numerous committees. In his acceptance speech, Rosales praised his mentor, the late Dr. William Cooper, who was surgeon at Nanticoke when Rosales arrived. He also praised his wife, Flor. "When things didn't go according to expectation, when all I could do was walk around with my head down, she made sure that there was always the best place I could go, and that was home," he said. Receiving the Charles C. Allen Jr. Leadership in Philanthropy Award Thursday night was Frank "Snubby" Anderson, Seaford. Anderson has served on the hospital board and on its development committee. He has also made several donations to the hospital, including furniture that he made. He is "loyal, intelligent and dedicated," said long-time friend and business partner George Gabriel. "He is generally known as 'Mr. Wonderful,' " added friend and former hospital board member Hank Newton. "He has enjoyed life to the fullest and has given back so much for all of us."

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