Alegent Health Mercy Hospital Foundation Heritage Dinner Set for Saturday, March 31
Release Date: 03/05/2007

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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 a 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

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 gala evening gets underway with a cocktail reception, followed by a gourmet meal and the recognition program. For more information regarding the 2007 Heritage Dinner or for tickets to the event, please contact Cheryl Weber at (712) 328-5141.

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. 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.

Tom grew up in Minden, Iowa and received his Bachelor’s of Science degree from Iowa State University where he majored in agricultural business. Soon after, he and wife Kathy moved to Council Bluffs where he began a flourishing career at the Council Bluffs Saving Bank as the head of real estate and mortgage loan department. In 1982, he became president of there; president, chairman and CEO of Firstar Bank in 1987; and president, chairman and CEO of Peoples National Bank until his retirement in 2005. Tom has served as president of the Iowa Banker’s Association and is a past member of the American Bankers’ Association Government Relations Board.

Tom is chairman of the Iowa Western Foundation Board of Trustees and is the immediate past president of the Council Bluffs Public Library Foundation Board of Trustees. He co-chaired the 2.5 million fund drive for the Council Bluffs Public Library. Tom is also on the Jennie Edmundson Hospital Board. Tom has been president and board member of the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce and the Council Bluffs Industrial Foundation Board. He was chairman of the United Way of the Midlands, the Metro-area YMCA, past chairman and board member of the General Dodge House. He has served on the Nishnabotna Council of the Girl Scouts as either treasurer or on the finance committee for 39 years and has been on boards of the American Cancer Society, Family Services and the Omaha Community Foundation.

Kathy was born and grew up in Charles City, Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics. She taught home economics classes at Abraham Lincoln High School and adult education classes before becoming a full-time community volunteer. Kathy has been involved with several civic organizations in leadership positions including the Council Bluffs Senior Center, the IWCC Volunteer Institute Board, Lauritzen Gardens Board, Explorer Garden Club, past president and a 29 year hospital auxiliary volunteer, Master Gardener, Council Bluffs Service League and Council Bluffs Guild of Omaha Symphony, just to name a few. She is a recipient of the Harry C. Voss Award for Volunteerism and the Jennie Edmundson Volunteer of the Year. Kathy is currently a member of the P.E.O Chapter LR, an educational organization for women and a former trustee of the Council Bluffs Public Library.

The Whitsons have been married for 43 years, and together have raised three children and now enjoy spending time with their four grandchildren. Highlights of their many years of service over the years include active membership of the Broadway United Methodist Church, serving on the Steering Committee for Bayliss Park Renovation, co-chairing the Iowa Western Community College campaign to build the IWCC Performing Arts Center, co-chairing the Heritage Award dinner in 2004 and being 4-H leaders for 18 years. The Whitsons hope their efforts have encouraged the arts to flourish and have contributed to a vibrant, quality of life in the Council Bluffs community.

James Hawk

Mr. Hawk is both an entrepreneur and nature enthusiast, 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 is a World War II Navy veteran who traveled the world before settling back down in Council Bluffs where he began the Jim Hawk Truck Trailer Company. In 1974, Mr. Hawk initially had nine employees who were involved with the selling, repair and service of semi-trailer trucks. Forty years later, the company has expanded to 300 employees, in nine locations including the cities of Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Kansas City and Chicago.

Mr. Hawk and his wife Beverly have been married for 61 years, and together have raised two children and enjoyed two grandsons who work for the company. A philanthropic at heart, over the years, Mr. Hawk has generously given several gifts to the Council Bluffs community including the police department and Thomas Jefferson High School. The Council Bluffs Police Department credits Mr. Hawk for helping jump start their canine enforcement program by initially purchasing two dogs. Mr. Hawk and his wife also initiated the Jim and Bev Hawk Scholarship Fund 20 years ago. The annual scholarship program awards one Thomas Jefferson High School graduating senior with a $4,000 scholarship each year 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 continues to put in a full work week and credits the key to his business success as having the right product, personnel and location.

Lee A. Spann

A lifelong educator both in and out of the classroom, Mr. Spann has spent more than 40 years enriching the lives of students in the Council Bluffs/Omaha area. Mr. Spann is the current vice president of Friends of the Library Board, serves on the following boards: the Council Bluffs Center Board, the Bluffs Arts Council Board, the Bluffs Arts Council Foundation Board and the Public Art Committee. Mr. Spann has served as past president of the following organizations: Bluffs Art Council, Council Bluffs Education Association, Phi Delta Kappa and the Wichita State Chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. He has also volunteered his time in leadership positions for various other organizations and has received numerous awards for his outstanding community service including the following: Abraham Lincoln’s Teacher of the Year, Iowa Music Educator Distinguished Service Award and several volunteer recognition awards.

Mr. Spann is a graduate of Keya Paha County High School in Springview, Nebraska and attended Wichita State University where he double-majored in choir and band education. Mr. Spann returned to the Omaha/Council Bluffs area to begin his teaching career while taking graduate classes and eventually obtaining a Master’s Degree in education administration at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Mr. Spann spent five years teaching in Omaha before moving to Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he taught for 31 years. After retiring from public school teaching in 2000, Mr. Spann began teaching vocal music part-time at St. Albert Junior/Senior High School and continues in that position today. Collectively, Mr. Spann has directed more than 50 high school musicals and hundreds of concerts, all the while continuing to build student’s interest, participation and appreciation of music and fine arts.

Mr. Spann has also lent his time and musical talents in the metro community. Over the years he has served as the music director of various churches throughout Omaha/Council Bluffs area, including his current position as the music minister of First Presbyterian Church in Omaha. He’s also a long-time member of the Southwest Iowa Men’s Chorus, annually co-directs a choir festival put on by the Council Bluffs Evening Musical and for the past several years has directed the annual Messiah performance at the Broadway Methodist Church. Mr. Spann continues to enjoy the privilege of providing singing entertainment at community events including nursing homes, weddings, civic organizations and special programs. Mr. Spann has been married for 38 years to his wife Idella and has two daughters and a son-in-law. He credits his success in education with continued family support, great students and parents and the assistance of his many colleagues over the years.

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. Born and raised in Council Bluffs, Dr. Fisher credits his parents for instilling his hard work ethic. He has practiced medicine in his hometown for more than 25 years, and has also received world-wide recognition for his volunteer efforts with Doctors of the World, an international health and human rights organization reaching out to the most vulnerable and marginalized populations and working where health is diminished or endangered by violations of human rights and civil liberties.

Dr. Fisher received his medical degree from the University of Iowa in 1978, and has practiced both family and emergency room medicine since completing his residency. 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.

Dr. Fisher is very committed to volunteering his time through Doctors of the World and Volunteers in Mission. Most notably in 1999, he traveled to Kosovo, lending his medical expertise for five weeks at a refugee camp of 10,000. He recalls discussing the ethnic cleansing happening in the region at that time, when his daughter suggested he do something to help out since he felt so strongly. So Dr. Fisher, along with a group of physicians and nurses, treated a variety of mild injuries and illnesses in adults and children including sore throats, cuts and scrapes. He also handled more serious war-related injuries including malnutrition, post-traumatic stress and anxiety. In 2004 and again in January 2007, Dr. Fisher made two trips to Guatemala, where he spent a total of four weeks treating a host of injuries and illnesses related to poor hygiene and poor nutrition at various clinics in the region.

When Dr. Fisher is not traveling abroad, he is involved in a number of organizations here at home including the Pottawattamie County Board of Health and the Council Bluffs Board of Health, a Senior Warden of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and resides on the Johnson Youth Leadership Facility. Dr. Fisher has also held various offices in the past of several organizations including American Medical Association, YMCA Board of Director, Visiting Nurses Advisory Board and the president of the local chapter of the American Heart Association. Dr. Fisher has been married for 33 years and has three grown daughters. At 55-years-old, Dr. Fisher says he plans to continue working full-time for at least another five years with his colleagues, who are a pleasure to work with and says his passion for helping others is his way of giving back due to the rich blessings he has received in both his family life and career.