Retired St. Clair Hospital volunteer being honored at age 101

Published Jun 13, 2014 at 11:10 am (Updated Jun 13, 2014 at 11:10 am)

Several volunteers who have given their time to St. Clair Hospital in many capacities are being honored by the hospital at a luncheon on June 19. Six volunteers are being recognized for contributing 5,000 hours to the hospital and another four are being honored for 10,000 hours of service.

Special awards for outstanding service are being given to three volunteers, including Bernard “Bernie” Queneau, who will turn 102 on July 14. He volunteered at the hospital until he was 97.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our hospital,” said Georgianne Williams, who has been director of volunteers at St. Clair for 17 years.

Volunteers who have served 5,000 hours each are: Marian Burnett, Lucille Dimit, Aida DiNardo, Darlene English, Pat Muehlbauer and Fred White.

White, of Scott Township, said the best part of volunteering is “meeting people.” He continues to volunteer each week at the hospital as a patient escort.

At the 10,000 hour mark are Karen Eberz, Mildred Getty, Millie Moeller and Agnes Spagnol.

Moeller, of Bridgeville, volunteers in the gift shop and is the jewelry buyer for the store.

“Being in the gift shop is rewarding,” Moeller said. “It’s satisfying to know you’re helping people.” She recalled one specific time a few years ago – a man came into the gift shop looking to buy tulips for his mother, who was in critical condition. He wanted a bouquet, but all that was available was a tulip in a pot. Moeller told the man to get the potted flower so that when his mother died, he could plant it and remember her.

“It still blooms,” she said, adding that the man came in to tell her that he planted it and it comes back every year.

Naomi Patton, of South Fayette, is receiving an outstanding service award at the luncheon. She started volunteering at the hospital in 1989 and has chaired the supportive visitor’s service for 25 years. Patton, who is the widow of Dr. Volney Patton, an emergency room doctor at St. Clair, has contributed more than 12,000 hours of service to the hospital.

“You count your blessings,” Patton said of volunteering. “It reinforces how lucky you are.”

Queneau, of Mt. Lebanon, contributed more than 2,500 volunteer hours to the hospital before he “retired” from it a few years ago. The World War II Naval Commander also has a Ph.D. in metallurgy and worked as a professor at Columbia University. He was also general manager of quality assurance at U.S. Steel. He retired from all technical activities in 1987. His wife, Esther, also volunteered at the hospital.

“I enjoyed it because of the friends you meet,” Queneau said.

He recalled a story from his days as a volunteer. “I was escorting a lady to her room and her sister was a very chatty lady,” he said. “She said, ‘How old are you?’” At the time Queneau was 75.

“She said, ‘I’m 77. Do you want my phone number?’” Queneau laughed.

Also at the June 19 luncheon at Chartiers Country Club, 45 students who are graduating from high school this year will be honored. Williams said the high school volunteers have collectively contributed 10,552 hours. They represent 10 local high schools including Bethel Park, Bishop Canevin, Brashear, Chartiers Valley, Keystone Oaks, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Seton LaSalle, South Fayette and West Allegheny. One student with the most hours will receive the Alice Lockhart Scholarship, which was named for a volunteer who contributed more than 25,000 hours over 22 years of service.

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