Hospice of Warren County honored the agency's forefathers at a "Wall of Honor" ceremony Thursday, Sept. 12, at the John and Orpha Blair Hospice Residence. The idea for a "Wall of Honor" came from Marcy O'Brien, Hospice advisory committee member and interior designer for the Hospice residence.
Created by local artist, Pat Orbanic, this unique piece of copper art, prominently displayed in the entrance of the Hospice residence, depicts a growing vine with roots and leaves. Names of these four significant contributors to Hospice of Warren County's legacy in time, talent, and / or financial support have been placed on a leaf on the vine, representing Hospice of Warren County's grassroots beginning.
Shortly after the first hospice was formed in the United States in 1972, the idea of starting a hospice in rural Warren came from the mind of Dr. Roger Mesmer, a psychiatrist at the Warren State Hospital. His vision, commitment and success changed the way end of life care in Warren County may be experienced.
Wall of Honor names are placed on copper art created
by Pat Orbanic at the Hospice residence
Dr. Mesmer teamed with philanthropist and businessman, Joseph DeFrees, whose generosity and commitment to Dr. Mesmer's vision, funded the education, training, and start up costs required to establish our agency in 1979. This dynamic duo drew in several other community members in support of their mission to bring dignity and service to the people of their community dealing with terminal disease. Mary Schorman, one of the original extremely committed community members, has tirelessly worked to provide exceptional bereavement services as well as serving in leadership positions for Hospice of Warren County. Mary Ann Buerkle, another extremely committed community member, provided her time, talent, financial support, leadership, and vision and was instrumental in the establishment of the Hospice Residence.
Hospice of Warren County upholds the same principles today that the agency was founded upon in 1979, keeping staff and volunteers true to the agency's mission of the unique kind and level of service we strive to bring to this community:
Move slowly but steadily, be personal with the details, success comes through the love and dedication of many people, avail ourselves to education, volunteers are the heart of hospice, and listen with the heart.
Dr. Mesmer's wife, Chris, continues to volunteer with hospice and shares her unique talent as an artist with agency projects. MaryAnn Buerkle's son-in-law, Bob Sears, creates beautiful memories by volunteering his limousine service to hospice patients and families.
Hospice of Warren County is blessed today to have more than 150 dedicated and caring staff and volunteers who continue in the tradition of those before them to make so many wonderful things happen for Hospice patients and their families every day. Hospice of Warren County is the only non-profit Hospice serving all of Warren County since 1979.
Joseph DeFrees' photograph courtesy Warren County Historical Society, Stoke Portrait Collection