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Suzie Koontz

Suzie Koontz's first connection to Saint Luke's Hospital began when she visited her ill grandfather as a child. As a teenager, she worked as a nurse's aide for part of one summer at the hospital.

"That's when I realized how hard nursing was," Suzie said. "I thought maybe that wasn't my calling after all."

Suzie's connection to Saint Luke's continued with the birth of her oldest son. Then her first husband, Gerald "Jerry" McCann, was treated at the hospital over the years for heart problems.

Jerry had two bypasses at Saint Luke's. During his hospitalizations, he and Suzie realized how much the nurses did and how much they appreciated their care.

"They had to carry out so many procedures, and they did it with such skill," said Suzie. "The nurses made all the difference in the world. They made it all tolerable."

In turn, Jerry loved telling the nurses stories and entertaining them.

He passed away in 1987, three years after his second bypass, when he was only 58. The night he died, Suzie said, one of his nurses put her arms around her and cried with her.

Suzie was moved to do something to remember Jerry in a positive way. She was inspired by several endowments at the high school where she worked as a librarian.

Through Saint Luke's Foundation, Suzie established funds in Jerry's name. The Gerald T. McCann Career Development in Nursing Fund provides grants and Clinical Excellence in Nursing Awards to allow nurses to further their education.

"I'm always pleased that Jerry's name is involved in these awards," Suzie said. "He would have appreciated it."

In addition, a memorial fund in Jerry's name provides nursing scholarships at Saint Luke's College of Health Sciences. Suzie is grateful for the opportunity to give back to others.

As a member of Saint Luke's Foundation's Heritage Society, Suzie has seen to it that these nursing education funds will be perpetuated through a planned gift in her estate plan.

"I know it sounds like a cliché," she said. "But it's wonderful to show people they're appreciated. I like having the opportunity to give back to those who give so much of themselves and let them know they're highly valued."