Nanticoke Memorial recognizes forces behind hospital's success

By Lynn R. Parks

When Melissa Lynch applied to medical school, she had to write an essay describing why she wanted to become a doctor. In her essay, she talked about her grandfather, John C. Lynch, who was a general practitioner in Seaford. "I've spent my whole life being Dr. Lynch's granddaughter, and receiving the love of the community through him," she wrote. "I want to be a doctor so that when I am an old woman, my grandchildren will be hearing from the community about what a wonderful doctor I am." Melissa Lynch, now Melissa Moses, is a doctor in California. Her mother, Carol, Seaford, read her application essay at a ceremony last Thursday during which the late John Lynch was inducted into the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Physicians Hall of Fame. "In March, my brother Jack and I will have been without our father for 30 years," John Lynch's daughter, Norma Jean Fowler, told the 260 people at the ceremony, which was held in the club house at Baywood Greens Golf Course, Long Neck. "To have him remembered after such a long time is very gratifying." The second annual Tributes for Healthcare Leadership ceremony also included the induction of Dr. Judith Tobin, who came to Nanticoke in 1960 as an associate pathologist and is still an assistant state medical examiner, into the Physicians Hall of Fame. The Auxiliary of Nanticoke Health Services received the Charles C. Allen Jr. Leadership in Philanthropy Award and the late Karl K. Brown Sr. was honored with a Founders Award. "Pop was a city father," said Brown's son, Karl Jr., who was among Brown's family members who accepted the award. "He served on the school board and on the town council. He knew that he was doing his job, and that was to help the community. It was about being a citizen. He was an absolutely effective citizen, in the deepest, finest meaning of the word. And he was a wonderful guy." According to the hospital, the Nanticoke Tributes ceremony honors individuals who have "made significant contributions to the provision and improvement of healthcare in the communities of western Sussex County." Induction into the physicians hall of fame "recognizes and honors physicians who have served their communities with dedication and distinction," it said. The Charles C. Allen, Jr. Philanthropy Award "recognizes individuals or groups who have furthered the spirit of philanthropy in our community by leadership and example." John Lynch, born in 1908 in Georgetown, graduated from the University of Virginia and attended Harvard Medical School. He graduated from the Long Island College of Medicine (now part of New York University) in 1934 and, after serving an internship at Wilmington General Hospital, came to Seaford in 1936 to work with the practice of Dr. Annie Shipley. He was married two years later, to Ruth Cooper, Seaford. During World War II, while serving with the Army during the invasion of Normandy, he was injured as he carried wounded men from the battlefield. "To restore his shell-torn leg, he subjected himself to post-war experimental surgical techniques and skin grafts for two years at White Sulphur springs in Georgia," according to a biography supplied by the hospital. When he returned to Seaford, he returned to work as a general practitioner. He served as the hospital's second chief of staff. "Well-known for his excellent memory of birth dates of the children he delivered as well as his legendary sense of humor, Dr. Lynch set a high standard for conduct of the Nanticoke medical staff as both professional and personable," according to the hospital. Lynch suffered a stroke in 1967 at the age of 59 and had to give up his practice shortly after that. He died in 1977 at the age of 69. "Daddy's career was kind of nipped in the bud," Fowler said. "He didn't get to live to be one of the grand old men. That he is remembered 30 years after his death is very special to me."

Tobin is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Mount Holyoke college in South Hadley, Mass., and a 1952 graduate of the medical school at Columbia University. After graduating from Columbia, she moved to Seaford with her husband, surgeon Richard Tobin, who joined the practice of surgeon Bill Cooper. Because she was trained in pathology, Dr. Kendrick McCullough, head of pathology at Peninsula General Hospital, Salisbury, asked her to prepare specimens and give opinions on medical legal issues on a part-time basis. She joined Nanticoke in 1960 as associate pathologist and later served as chairwoman of the hospital's department of pathology. She has served a deputy medical examiner for the board of Post-Mortem Examiners of Sussex County and has been an assistant state medical examiner since 1964. She is the only woman to serve as president of the Nanticoke medical staff, a position she held twice (1971 to 1974 and 1976 to 1978). Mother of six, she was named Delaware's Mother of the Year in 1984. The Auxiliary of Nanticoke Health Services has served the hospital for 56 years. Its volunteers' initial duties included making baby clothes and formula, rolling bandages and stocking the hospital's kitchen. At the celebration of its 50th birthday, it was credited with providing more than $1 million worth of supplies to the hospital. Those supplies include air conditioning, fans, oxygen, linen, silverware, dishes, furniture, in-house satellite television and medical equipment. Today, the auxiliary operates the hospital's gift shop and provides television and phone service to patients. It holds two fund-raisers a year, the winter gala and a dinner auction. In 2006, it helped fund three medical scholarships for area students, the NHS indigent drug care program and updates to the kitchen at LifeCare at Lofland Park nursing home. Seaford native Karl Brown Sr. graduated from Seaford High School around 1914 and went to work for the First National Bank of Seaford. "He started at the bottom and learned banking from the furnace up," said his son. "He rose to the top," becoming the bank's executive officer. "Brown was in a pivotal position to rally business leaders in Seaford, Laurel, Delmar, Bridgeville and Sharptown to develop firm plans for a hospital to serve the needs of the area," according to the hospital. Brown secured the hospital's charter in 1945 and spearheaded fund-raising that led to groundbreaking in 1950 and the grand opening in 1952. He also supported expansions in 1959 and 1968. Brown's wife, Anna Mae, died in 1955 and a wing of the hospital that was completed in 1959 was named after her. "Both their hearts were in this community and its hospital," said their son. Brown died in 1984 at the age of 88. "Pop would be 110 now," Karl Jr. added. "He was always very much a gentleman, always very courtly. "He belongs to the ages now."

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