At the center of Milford, DE, a homegrown hospital called Bayhealth Milford Memorial cares for the town’s people. For the past 50 years, one couple has made it their business to care for that hospital. In 1959, fresh out of medical school and after completing his internship, Richard Crabb, MD, joined the U.S. Air Force to become a flight surgeon. He was stationed on Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa, Japan for three years. He returned stateside and entered the surgical residency at the University of Oklahoma and completed the four year residency program in 1967. Soon afterward, Dr. Crabb came to Milford with his wife Fran and four children. Unfortunately, Dr. Crabb’s wife lost her battle with breast cancer in 1973. In 1975, he met and married Pat Hopkins, a nurse.
The Crabbs live a quarter mile from Milford Memorial; close enough that Dr. Crabb could walk to work. Sometimes, he didn’t have a choice. Mrs. Crabb recalled a 1970s snowstorm that surprised everyone by dumping several feet of snow on Milford overnight. When they woke to find their car snowed in, Dr. Crabb slogged through hip-deep drifts to perform surgery scheduled that morning.
Dr. Crabb practiced surgery at Milford Memorial for thirty years. During his tenure, he held a variety of positions including president of the medical staff and chief of surgery at Milford. In 1977, Mrs. Crabb joined the Milford Auxiliary. “I was asked to be grounds chairman for the hospital fair. After that, I was invited to join the Auxiliary Board.” Since then, she’s remained involved as a fundraiser and volunteer. “Our fundraising monies were used to help the various departments of the hospital in small and large ways,” she said. “Sometimes a department would request something the hospital hadn’t budgeted for that year, so the Auxiliary would use their funds to get what they needed.” The Auxiliary raised funds for everything from incubators to beds. Recently, the Auxiliary pledged to raise an astounding $750,000 for Bayhealth’s new health campus project.
Dr. Crabb retired in 1997, the same year Milford Memorial and Kent General merged under Bayhealth. “Bayhealth has been good to Milford,” said Dr. Crabb. “I felt the merger was a good idea.” After the merger, the Crabbs never wavered in supporting their hospital. “There have been many changes,” said Mrs. Crabb, “But we have to embrace that change to be better and stay competitive.”
Long after Dr. Crabb’s retirement, the couple continued to serve on various Bayhealth boards and committees. In fact, Dr. Crabb only recently retired from the Bayhealth Foundation Board of Directors due to health issues, but one gets the feeling he would remain actively involved forever if he felt he could. Mrs. Crabb remains engaged; she helps plan events and volunteers on Fridays at Milford Memorial’s Reflections Gift Shop.
For the Crabbs, the new health campus in southern Delaware is a longtime dream come true. “I’m excited to see the plans for the new hospital,” said Dr. Crabb. Mrs. Crabb echoed his excitement. “We’re blessed to have our own little hospital in this town,” she said. “For Bayhealth to be willing to invest in this community and to expand its first class medical care is just wonderful.”
After Dr. Crabb’s retirement from the Bayhealth Foundation board at the end of 2015, the Foundation presented a plaque to commemorate and honor the Crabbs’ tireless support and contributions over the past five decades.
“Dick and Pat have been extraordinary leaders in the Milford community, at Milford Memorial, and at Bayhealth,” said Lindsay Rhodenbaugh, president of the Bayhealth Foundation. “Their contributions to the new health campus project continue a legacy of support that goes back many years. The Crabbs are among those who set the tone in southern Delaware and we are grateful they’ve chosen Bayhealth as a focus of their involvement.”
To learn more about the new health campus in southern Delaware or make a donation, visit imaginede.com or call 302-744-7015 to speak with a representative from the Bayhealth Foundation.
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