Alegent Health Mercy Hospital Foundation Announces Recipients of the 2007 Heritage Award
Release Date: 01/11/2007

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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa-The Alegent Health Mercy Hospital Foundation will sponsor the 23RD annual Heritage Dinner on Saturday, March 31, 2007, at Harrah’s Grand Ballroom in Council Bluffs. The theme is “Imagine Council Bluffs.”

The highlight of the event will include an awards presentation for the 2007 Heritage Award, which recognizes individuals from southwest Iowa for their professional and personal contributions to the community. Heritage was created to celebrate the community and to pay homage to those honorees who have enriched the community and established a legacy on which future Heritage Award honorees can build. Nominations for the 2007 Heritage Awards were made this past fall and are presented to individuals who excel in the following four areas: Arts/Humanities; Business; Education; and Health/Medicine. The following are recipients of the 2007 awards by category:

Arts/Humanities - Tom and Kathy Whitson

Business - James Hawk

Education - Lee Spann

Health/Medicine - Dr. Alan Fisher

The gala evening gets underway with a cocktail reception, followed by a gourmet meal and the recognition program.

Each year a committee of community leaders and Mercy Hospital staff coordinate the event. Chairing this year’s event are Matt and Barb Walsh; co-chairs are Doug and Deb Goodman. Other committee members include Sandy Howard, Kim Otto, Kirk Madsen, Phyllis Otto and Larry Beckman.

The following are brief profiles of each 2007 Heritage Award recipient:

Tom and Kathy Whitson

For more than four decades, Tom and Kathy Whitson have dedicated countless hours of their time and talents to enriching the lives of the Council Bluffs community in the Arts/Humanities arena. The Whitsons are active members of the Broadway United Methodist Church, served on the Steering Committee for Bayliss Park Renovation, co-chaired the Iowa Western Community College campaign to build the IWCC Performing Arts Center, co-chaired the Heritage Award dinner in 2004 and were 4-H leaders for 18 years. Together, the Whitsons have received numerous honors and awards from several service clubs and organizations including: Iowa State University “Friends of the ISU Extension,” 2001; Renaissance Faire King and Queen, 2000; and the west Pottawattamie County Outstanding 4-H Family, 1984. The Whitsons have a strong desire to give back to the community and believe access and exposure to various types of art and literature for everyone is important.

James Hawk

Mr. Hawk is an entrepreneur who has achieved four decades of success in the truck trailer industry that bears his name. A native of Woodbine, Iowa and raised in Council Bluffs, Mr. Hawk began the Jim Hawk Truck Trailer Company in 1974 with nine employees. Forty years later, the company has expanded into 300 employees, two of which are his grandsons, in nine locations including Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Kansas City and Chicago. A philanthropic spirit at heart, Mr. Hawk has generously given several gifts to the Council Bluffs community including the police department, who credits Mr. Hawk for helping begin their canine enforcement program. Two decades ago, the Jim and Bev Hawk Scholarship Fund was initiated, which awards four Thomas Jefferson High School graduating seniors with a $4,000 a year scholarship for a total of four years. An avid sportsman who loves to hunt and fish, Mr. Hawk is very involved in Ducks Unlimited and preserving the habitat of wild game birds. At 82 years old, Mr. Hawk credits the key to his success as having the right product, personnel and location.

Lee Spann

A lifelong educator, Mr. Spann has spent more than 40 years enriching the lives of high school students in the Council Bluffs/Omaha area. A graduate of Springview, Nebraska, Mr. Spann attended Wichita State University, double majoring in choir and band education. Mr. Spann returned to the area, spending five years teaching in Omaha before moving to Abraham Lincoln High School where he taught for 30 years, later working part-time in the St. Albert School System. Mr. Spann has served as president of the Bluffs Art Council, president for the Council Bluffs Education Association, Phi Delta Kappa and other organizations. He has also received numerous awards for his outstanding community service including Abraham Lincoln’s Teacher of the Year. Through it all, Mr. Spann has never lost his passion for the choir, band and theatre programs, directing more than 50 high school plays and community musicals and helping build student’s interest and participation in music. He has also gone outside the learning halls to provide singing and entertainment to hundreds of community events including nursing homes, weddings, civic organizations and special events.

Alan R. Fisher, M.D.

Patients describe Dr. Fisher as a compassionate, attentive doctor who provides excellent compassion and care in today’s fast-paced world of clinical medicine. A Council Bluffs native, Dr. Fisher has practiced medicine in his hometown for more than 25 years, and has also received world-wide recognition for his volunteer efforts with Doctors Without Borders. Dr. Fisher received his medical degree from the University of Iowa in 1978, and has practiced both Family and Emergency Room medicine. Dr. Fisher worked at Midlands Family Medicine for seven years before working as a staff physician in the Emergency Department at Alegent Health Mercy Hospital. In 1994, Dr. Fisher returned to family medicine at the Alegent Health Clinic on Madison Avenue, where he is currently located. Throughout his medical career, Dr. Fisher has received numerous awards and been involved with several organizations including American Medical Association, YMCA Board of Director, Visiting Nurses Advisory Board, president of the local chapter of the American Heart Association and as a physician at the Doctors of the World Kosovo Refugee Camp in Senakos and the Macedonia camp. Currently, Dr. Fisher serves on the Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County Board of Health.

For more information regarding the 2007 Heritage Dinner or for tickets to the event, please contact Cheryl Weber at (712) 328-5141.