Career Path

Bert Hanson - Mentor

Bill Tittle & Bert Hanson – 1958

Dad, a city kid turned farmer, donated his time to support the Woodstock Community. That service took many forms over the years. He and mom served the Opera House as directors and contributors during those critical years when later known talents first started honing their skills on that stage. It was about 1949. Besty Palmer, Shelly Berman, and Paul Newman were the most notable starving performers. One legend in the family story book includes Mr. Newman working for my parents doing finishing touches on our newly built home. My parents and Mr. Newman got fairly close at that time so Dad felt he knew him enough to make a bet. The five dollar bet was that Mr. Newman was not going anywhere soon in acting so he should travel back to Ohio to run the family store. It was a bet which rumors have it that Mr. Newman collected with a huge smile across his face.

Dad served as a Parole Officer, a rural fire district trustee, a community college trustee, and most importantly, a hospital trustee. In 1956 when he was President of the Woodstock Memorial Hospital for McHenry County, he got to fire and then hire a new Hospital Administrator.  In this 1958 public relations photo taken by Don Peasley, Dad and Bert posed to show preparation activity for building the new Hospital. The two of them became friends and Mr. Hanson became my mentor as I moved into my teens. When I was 15, my father sat me down to talk about what my future might hold. Architecture had been one possibility and now Hospital Administration was suggested.  It was at that moment that I focused on becoming one.

My undergraduate and graduate studies strategies emerged.  I was already attending Lake Forest Academy to prep me for college.  My 1950’s visits to Sinkola Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia steered me toward the South.  Tom Wright guided me.  He was a close family friend who had graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  Bob Nelson guided me.  He was director of student placement at LFA was also a graduate of Chapel Hill.  By shear good fortune, I was admitted as an out-of-state student.  There, my degree path was Business Administration.  In the college year summers I would work for Bert Hanson in a number of roles around the hospital.  I even worked the telephone switchboard for ONE day…got in trouble for that which is another story.  I organized the stores creating a library type system for goods consumed in the care of people.  I was the bad guy who sent out dunning letters for those behind in their payments.  There were lots of things he had me do to obtain a sense of how a hospital operated.  I was his protege aways with direct access to his office.  Almost everyday, we discussed what I was learning.  He was a very strong influence on my journey.

After graduating from UNC on 6/6/66, Linda had to do several externships as part of her Physical Therapy training.  That summer she lived in both Greenville, South Carolina and Warm Springs, Georgia.  She joined me at the end of the summer to live and work in Woodstock.  At first, we had our possessions stored in Philadelphia anticipating moving to Washington DC to attend graduate school at Georgetown University.   We even had a Foggy Bottom Studio Apartment lined up.  The University of Chicago had also admitted me.  When she was done with her externships, she was fully graduated. We then both worked in different departments at the hospital.  She made more money than I did.  That one issue signaled the practical beginning of Women’s Liberation in our home.  I just counted the money and smiled.

Shortly after arriving home from Chapel Hill, the Selective Service Board started changing my plans.  That summer I had at least 5 appeals to maintain my S2 deferment.  I kept getting 1 A status because Uncle Sam wanted “me”…not “you!”  It was then that I sought out the Navy as my new short term career path.  I was sworn into Naval Aviation on December 8, 1966 to report for Naval Aviation Cadet School, Pensacola the following March.

Keeping to the Hospital Administration story: By late 1970, it was time to decide what my life profession would be.  I was a full Lieutenant with my Naval Aviation years spent as a Bombadier/Navigator flying A6A Intruders.  (Yes, I was in VA-196 that was the basis for Stephen Coont’s “Flight of the Intruder” book and movie.)  I had orders back to Pensacola for Pilot Training to report in April 1971.  I had applications for graduate school for a Masters in Health Administration in a number of universities.  Visiting Dr. Joel May at the University of Chicago during Christmas leave to Woodstock I learned that he would readmit me 6 years later and that one of his professors was starting a new program at the University of Washington, Seattle.  This was the very same school that I would mutter “I wish they had a program in hospital administration” every time Linda and I drove by on I-5.

Dr. Bill Richardson was the new Dean for the School of Health Administration and could not do enough to get this “C” student enrolled in the first official class scheduled to graduate in 1973.   He even strongly encouraged me to accept a full financial ride for those two years.  It took three years to make as much money with Linda working full time at Harborview Hospital as a Rehabilitation Physical Therapist and me on the GI bill as well as a full scholarship.

I left Navy active duty from VAQ – 129, NAS Whidbey Island on July 25, 1971 to move our family to 7619 15th NE, Seattle where we would live the next two years while I attended classes and did internships.  I earned my Masters in Health Administration in June 1973 to start my career as an Assistant Administrator with the Sisters of Providence Hospital, Medford, Oregon.

On July 7, 1979 the Sisters of Providence appointed me as Administrator of Providence Hospital, Oakland, California.

It took nineteen years to achieve a dream suggested by these two men.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s