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Nurse honors ACH, leaving it $2.2 million

A $2.2 million bequest from Ruth Tucker Evans will help Ashland Community Hospital offer more nursing scholarships, expand hospice care, and help fund charity care for the uninsured and underinsured.

It is the largest gift the ACH Foundation has received in its 36-year history, a foundation spokeswoman said.

Evans died in January at age 96. A captain in the Army Nurses Corps during World War II, she was noted for her philanthropic work after the death of her husband, Dr. William G. Evans, in 2002.

Most of the earnings from the money will go to the William G. and Ruth T. Evans Endowed Nursing Scholarship, which has awarded $145,000 to 71 nursing students at Rogue Community College and Oregon Health & Science University at Southern Oregon University since its creation 11 years ago. It's for students who intend to work in the Rogue Valley.

The ACH Foundation has given about $1,000 each to a dozen or so students per year, said Janet Troy, vice president for development.

With the bequest, it should be able to give up to $5,000 grants to 20 students, depending on market performance.

Earnings also will expand the foundation's Charity Care Endowment, which gave $1.4 million last year, and the ACH Hospice Program, which gave 7,300 days of help last year.

The size of the bequest is equal to about seven years' worth of the foundation's fundraising, which raises at least $300,000 a year, Troy said.

"We're very excited about it. She was one of our most beloved donors," Troy said.

Evans and her husband moved to Ashland 15 years ago to be near a daughter and fell in love with the town, Troy said. The funds are in stocks, bonds and mutual funds, "and we have to receive them before we know the full amount" and its earning potential, she said.

"It's an excellent example of how people can make a difference. We hope it inspires others to remember charities and leave legacies like this when drawing wills," Troy said.

Evans was born in Lowell, Mass., in 1916. As a registered nurse, she served in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. She married William in 1947 and moved to Dixonville, Pa., where he opened a practice and she raised their daughters, Margaret and Barbara.

She contributed to the Evans Family Endowed Music Scholarship Fund at SOU and established several Oregon Community Foundation funds to benefit local projects. Earlier, the couple set up funds with the Pittsburgh Foundation to support medical education and health projects.

The ACH Foundation, Troy said, "is grateful and honored that Ruth has entrusted us with a gift of this magnitude. It is a wonderful legacy for such a generous and compassionate woman.

"Her gift is a true reflection of her commitment to the nursing profession and a desire to care for those in need."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.