Donation of Family Farm Becomes Gift of Hope for Children at Doernbecher

09/14/00    Portland, Ore.

Couple's Love of Children Results in Nearly $1.2 Million Gift to Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

Although John "Jack" and Melba Dietrich had no children of their own, the legacy of this Cornelius, Ore., family will touch the lives of countless pediatric cancer patients for generations to come. Oregon Health Sciences University's Doernbecher Children's Hospital recently received a gift of nearly $1.2 million from the Jack and Melba Dietrich estate.

Through a bequest and a charitable remainder unitrust, the Dietrichs designated all proceeds from the sale of their 40-acre Fern Springs Ranch to benefit the children at Doernbecher. The Dietrich's endowment fund will support pediatric oncology at Doernbecher through the Robert Neerhout Chair in Pediatric Oncology, which currently is held by Leonard Johnson, M.D., professor of pediatrics, and head, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, OHSU School of Medicine. This position supports patient care, treatments and research into childhood cancer.

The Dietrichs ranched in the Mountaindale area near Cornelius for 53 years. Jack worked for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, while Melba taught school for 35 years in Beaverton and Portland. After retiring in 1975, the Dietrichs stayed on their farm, raising livestock, stocking their trout ponds and mending fences.

Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation President Jon Ulsh said gifts such as the Dietrich's not only lend financial support to the local children's hospital, but also serve as inspiration to the doctors, researchers and students who strive to make Doernbecher one of the best children's hospitals in the country.

"At Doernbecher we are dedicated to providing the best physicians, latest treatments and the most sophisticated research programs to combat childhood diseases. The foresight of caring individuals such as the Dietrichs is crucial if we are to realize that goal," Ulsh said.

Jack Dietrich passed away in 1995 and Melba in 2000.

Doernbecher Children's Hospital care for more than 35,000 children every year from all over Oregon, Southwest Washington and surrounding states.

Note to Editors: Al Zimmerman, director of planned giving, Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation, is available for interviews.