Gentleman and Statesman
If Donald Shropshire had a calling card, it was his gentleman’s charm, wrapped in a bow tie, sealed with a handshake and topped with a little Southern flavor.
If he had a calling, though, it was providing healthcare for the community.
But his love, first and foremost, was his wife, Mary Ruth, an elementary school teacher by training, whom he married in 1950, and his children, Melanie and Devin.
Also at the top of the list was Tucson Medical Center, which he led between 1967 until his retirement in 1992 and continued to shape in the ensuing decades as President Emeritus.
The pioneering healthcare leader passed away on May 28 at the age of 87.
He was the heartbeat of Tucson Medical Center during his tenure – unshakeable in his vision to improve the health of the Tucson community.
“If success is measured by how many lives one has touched, or how many positive changes one makes in the world, then Don was a successful man indeed,” said Judy Rich, TMC President and CEO. “He was a thoughtful man who was not only a visionary leader, helping to move this community hospital into its modern age, but who inspired us all with his civility, passion and dedication.”
Always on the forefront of medical technology and improvements, he led the hospital to open the city’s first newborn and pediatric intensive care units and bring Tucson its first MRI and breast-imaging technology.
His commitment was acknowledged in 1989, when he accepted one of healthcare’s most prestigious honors, the American Hospital Association Distinguished Service Award.
Aside from historical facts, perhaps his legend lies even in more personal remembrances – such as his walking hospital hallways and remembering the names of the staff he encountered.
It didn’t take long for Shropshire to plant deep, deep roots in the community – including medicine, education, business, philanthropy and the arts.
In addition to healthcare, he believed that education and the arts were pivotal for the well-being of a community. He served on both the Arizona Board of Regents and on the board of Pima Community College and personally supported students through scholarships at Pima, the University of Arizona and its Medici Circle for the performing artists of tomorrow.
Shropshire’s motto was “With all we take from this world, it’s important that we take time to give back.”
He was a founding member of the Voluntary Hospitals of America, chairman of the National Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, Arizona Town Hall, Tucson Airport Authority, La Posada at Park Centre and the UA College of Fine Arts dean’s board, as well as president of the Rotary Club of Tucson
He served on many boards – the American Hospital Association, Southern Arizona Hospital Council, Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Tucson Economic Development Corporation, Tucson Tomorrow, Health Planning Council, Tucson Electric Power/UniSource, Pima County Academic Decathlon, UA College of Management, UA Steele Children’s Research Center, Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, Rincon and Sonoran Institutes, Museum of Northern Arizona, Medical Reserve Corps of Southern Arizona, Medical Education Commission, First Interstate Bank and UA President’s Club. He even served as a Christmas season bell ringer for the Salvation Army.
In 1987, the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce named him Man of the Year, citing his “profound commitment” to Tucson. In 1997, the Father’s Day Council Tucson named him “Father of the Year.”
Beyond his public involvement, there were some very special personal moments, including his private audience with Pope John II.
This consummate gentleman was truly A Man for All Seasons.
He is survived by Mary Ruth, his wife of almost 65 years; Devin Shropshire, his son; Melanie David, his daughter, married to Gary; grandchildren Ashley McLain, Carrie and Sean David; great granddaughter, Skyla McLain; and his brother, Kent Shropshire.
The family suggests donations in his memory to the TMC Foundation for The Don & Mary Ruth Shropshire Endowment for the TMC Healing Art Program, Medici Fund UA College of Fine Arts, hospice program at Peppi’s House or Scholarship Fund, Pima Community College Foundation.
Reprinted with permission from TMC News