Shelbyville, IL - In 1916, a group of citizens led by Senator George Chafee and his wife saw the growing community of Shelbyville as a progressive place to live, work and raise a family. It had a fine school, jobs and was a thriving, bustling community. It had doctors, but it didn’t have a hospital. In those days, a form of swine flu swept the nation and citizens had to travel more than 30 miles to get to a medical facility. Dubbed at that time as the county’s greatest need, those leaders came together to raise the funds needed to build a hospital so that quality health care could be obtained close to home.
More than a 100 people blanketed the county to raise the necessary funds to build the original building of what is now HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital. Some went door to door while others asked friends and associates. Many of the founding donations came from families who could only spare a dollar or two. But in just five days, the committee raised $35,000. In today’s market value, that sum is the equivalent of $654,000. These founding fundraisers were pillars of the community at the time and still have descendants living in Shelbyville, today.
A wide array of stories and responses came up when their descendants were asked how they felt about their ancestors having the vision of such a great need and answering that call.
Sisters Suzie Hulick Robinson, Nancy Hulick Wilhem and Carole Hulick Hott are all granddaughters of Dr. C. H. Hulick, a founder of the hospital. Dr. Hulick helped draw other doctors into the area, including Dr. Biddlecomb, Dr. Middleton, Dr. Larson and Dr. Kauder. He mentored them as young doctors and helped them shape their practices. He was also known for forming a medical clinic in the 1920s and donating some of his land to the city for Forest Park which is now part of the Dacey Trail.
“The hospital is so important to have here at home,” Hott said. “We moved away from town during my husband’s career as an educator in Sullivan but wanted to return home to Shelbyville after he retired. The hospital was another big reason for our move back.”
Her sister, Nancy Wilhelm said, “I am very proud of the contributions of my grandfather. Little did Grandfather Hulick know that my husband, a hospital board member at the time, would have a heart attack in the middle of the night in 1993. The hospital stabilized him and sent him to St. John’s Hospital the next day for surgery. He is still by my side thanks to the care of our hospital.”
T. B. Shoaff was one of those founding members and is the great-grandfather of the former mayor, Bill Shoaff. Bill said, “I feel humbled that he was on the board that helped to shape our hospital. Our hospital has been a tremendous draw for young families to our hometown. It has helped to keep the community remain vital through the decades.”
Bill’s wife, Debra, is the great-grandniece of founding member Eber Ragan. “My ancestors were common people,” she said. “They were farmers. They weren’t wealthy, but they recognized the need and had the foresight to answer it with a large-scale project like building a hospital. Little did he know then, that Dr, Biddlecomb would deliver Bill, our son Mark and me in the hospital he helped to build. It makes me feel good that my family had a part in this. What a legacy.”
Police Chief Dave Tallman didn’t know that his great-aunt, Mrs. Leslie Tallman, was involved in bringing life to the dream of a hospital. When asked how he felt, he responded, “The police department has always enjoyed a great working relationship with the hospital. We are there almost daily with one need or another in our community. But personally, it gives me great comfort to know that if something happened to one of my officers as we protect and serve our community that we have access to an advanced medical facility here at home. I have my great-aunt, among others to thank for that.”
President of the Shelby County State Bank Gwen Dove Helton is the great-granddaughter of F. Roy Dove, another of the hospital’s founders. She said, “The hospital has always been important to my family. My family has used it and served on the board for the hospital. My mother, Ann Dove and grandmother Elizabeth Dove both volunteered as pink ladies on the hospital auxiliary. I feel the hospital is a necessary component of our community. It has current technology and has saved so many lives. I am very proud of the work that my ancestors did to make it a reality.”
President and CEO of HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital Aaron Puchbauer said, “There are hundreds of stories in our community of people that HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital has served. It is humbling to continue the legacy of these great men and women of the past who promised quality health care 24/7 here at home. That promise continues to be at the heart of our mission as we step into the next century of service.”
Please come and enjoy the hospital’s celebration on Sunday, Sept. 23 from 3-5 p.m. There will be fun for the whole family with a kids’ corner, emergency services vehicles, a health fair, food and lots of special gifts. There will also be special drawings and the mascot of HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital will be on the campus to spread some cheer.
About HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital
Since its inception in 1916, HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital in Shelbyville (GSS) has been dedicated to excellence in healthcare for those living and visiting their communities. GSS has accomplished this by providing comprehensive health services and meeting the needs of patients served through their compassionate care, business integrity and community responsibility. GSS provides a 24/7 emergency department that is fully staffed by physicians and highly-trained nurses, and also features inpatient and outpatient services, including a 24-hour laboratory and an imaging department that meets today’s highest standards for diagnostic imaging technology. GSS has an advanced surgery department and an acute inpatient care unit. Dedicated to being a hometown hospital, GSS’ home health and rehabilitation departments are committed to excellence with a team of professional nurses and therapists providing a variety of medical services and rehabilitative therapies, all designed to help patients heal in their own environment. The group of visiting specialists in the outpatient clinic works closely with GSS to help keep the healthcare services local even if a specialized procedure or exam is required. GSS strives to be the first choice for the community’s healthcare needs. For more information about HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital, visit www.hshsgoodshepherd.org.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high-quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 15 local systems and physician practices in Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Clare, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.