Donald Shropshire: A gentleman and a statesman

ShropshireIf Donald Shropshire had a calling card, it was his gentleman’s charm, wrapped in a bowtie, sealed with a handshake and topped with a little Southern flavor.

If he had a calling, though, it was in providing health care for the community.

But, his love, first and foremost, was his wife, Mary Ruth, an elementary school teacher by training, whom he married in 1950 and his children, Melanie and Devin.

Also at the top of the list was Tucson Medical Center, which he led between 1967 until his retirement in 1992 and continued to shape in the ensuing decades as President Emeritus.

The pioneering health care leader passed away on May 28, 2015 at the age of 87.

He was the heartbeat of Tucson Medical Center during his tenure – unshakeable in his vision to improve the health of the Tucson community.

“If success is measured by how many lives one has touched, or how many positive changes one makes in the world, then Don was a successful man indeed,” said Judy Rich, TMC President and CEO. “He was a thoughtful man who was not only a visionary leader, helping to move this community hospital into its modern age, but who inspired us all with his civility, passion and dedication.”

Always on the forefront of medical technology and improvements, Shropshire, for example, supported the latest medicine and technology had to offer, such as opening the city’s first newborn and pediatrDonald Shropshire small youngic intensive care units and bringing Tucson its first MRI and breast imaging technology.

His commitment to health care was acknowledged in 1989, when he accepted one of health care’s most prestigious honors, the American Hospital Association Distinguished Service Award.

Aside from historical facts, maybe his legend lies even in more personal remembrances such as walking hospital hallways and remembering the names of the staff he encountered.

For a man initially unacquainted with Tucson, it didn’t take long for Shropshire to plant deep, deep roots in the community, including medicine, education, business, philanthropy and the arts.

In addition to healthcare, he believed that education and the arts were pivotal for the well-being of a community.  He served on both the Arizona Board of Regents and on the board of Pima Community College and personally supported students through scholarships at Pima Community College, the University of Arizona and the Medici Circle for the performing artists of tomorrow.

Other civic participations included service on many boards including:  Founding member of the Voluntary Hospitals of America; American Hospital Association; Healthcare Forum of the Arizona Hospital Association; Southern Arizona Hospital Council; Chairman of the National Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education; Rotary Club of Tucson and its President; Arizona Chamber of Commerce; Tucson Economic Development Corporation; Tucson Tomorrow; Health Planning Council; Tucson Airport Authority and its Chairman; Tucson Electric Power and UniSource; Pima County Academic Decathlon; Arizona Town Hall and its Chairman; La Posada at Park Centre and its Chairman; National Board of Advisors of the University of Arizona College of Management; University of Arizona College of Fine Arts, Dean’s Board and its Chairman; University of Arizona Steele Memorial Children’s Research Center; Community Foundation of Southern Arizona; Rincon and Sonoran Institutes; Museum of Northern Arizona; Medical Reserve Corps of Southern Arizona;  Medical Education Commission; First Interstate Bank; University of Arizona President’s Club, and even serving as a Christmas Season Bell Ringer for the Salvation Army.

In 1987, the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce named him Man of the Year, citing his “profound commitment” to Tucson.  In 1997, the Father’s Day Council Tucson named Don “Father of the Year.”  Shropshire motto:  “With all we take from this world, it’s important that we take time to give back.”

Even with his public involvement, there were also some very special personal moments, including Don’s private audience with Pope John II.

This consummate gentleman was truly A Man for All Seasons.

Shropshires colorizedHe is survived by Mary Ruth, his wife of almost 65 years; Devin Shropshire, his son; Melanie David, his daughter, married to Gary; grandchildren Ashley McLain, Carrie and Sean David; a great granddaughter, Skyla McLain; and his brother, Kent Shropshire.

A Celebration of Life service will be held on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 11 a.m. at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2450 E. Fort Lowell., Tucson, Arizona 85719.

In addition, friends and colleagues may celebrate Don’s life with the family at a reception to be held at the Marshall Auditorium, Tucson Medical Center campus, that same day between 1 – 3 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family believes Don’s memory would be honored by donations to any of the following in his name:

TMC Foundation for The Don & Mary Ruth Shropshire Endowment for the TMC Healing Art Program; Medici Fund University of Arizona College of Fine Arts; The hospice program at Peppi’s House; or the Scholarship Fund, Pima Community College Foundation.


  1. Katie Riley says:

    The best of men! I feel blessed to have worked for Don Shropshire. A loss for Tucson.

  2. A true statesman, loved by all and the warmest, most intelligent individual I have ever known. Don was a long time supporter and friend of Pma Community where I had the privilege of serving as Chancellor/President for nine years. His commitment and advocacy for the community college movement has benefited thousands who have passed through the doors of Pima. Without his strong and unwavering leadership and support of the college, it would not have survived some of its turbulent years. Thanks you, Don. May you rest in peace. And, oh yes, don’t forget your bow tie! Jim Manilla

  3. Linda Wojtowicz says:

    In all my years at TMC, it was a rare occasion when a week went by that I didn’t receive a piece of mail from Mr. Shropshire. He sent articles he thought would be of interest to me, sent me photos or articles in which I appeared along with kind comments, or funny things to lighten the mood. He was a rare man to have been so generous with his time and thoughts and support.

  4. Lew Riggs says:

    No finer man in my estimation. I had the honor of working for him for ten years, an experience that taught me how one is supposed to live one’s life.
    Lew Riggs

  5. Lori Finn says:

    Mr. Shropshire was the best CEO I ever worked for in my 32 years of nursing. I will never forget his kind heart and his trademark bowties that would always fit every occasion.

    He would greet you at the door at the annual employee Christmas party and remember every staff member by name. Employee recognition dinners for years served at TMC were always an occasion to look forward to! They were always festive and fun, and no expense was spared for the location, food, and employee service pins, which I still cherish.

    Those were the days in nursing I will never forget. Work was a fun and wonderful place to be, before all of the changes that came in the later years in the form of “healthcare reform”.

    God bless you Mr. Shropshire for all of the wonderful things you brought to Tucson Medical Center and your philanthropic acts to benefit the Tucson community.

    My deepest and heartfelt sympathies to your family on the loss of such a wonderful man.

    With deepest condolences, respect and gratitude,
    Lori Winchell (Smidt) Finn
    TMC employee 1984- 1997

  6. Anonymous says:

    Don Shropshire was such a gentleman and scholar. He always remembered all those he met and recognized them at every occasion. He was a true ambassador of our community and of the TMC Family. He will be remembered with many fond memories and will be recognized for his many accomplishments over the years of his tenure at TMC and beyond. I was pleased to have known him and was honored to be a colleague of his in many community activities.
    Thank you Don for your incredible service to TMC and our community. And thank you to his family for sharing him with us!
    Adaline Klemmedson

  7. Anonymous says:

    Don Shropshire will be remembered for his gracious manner, his ubiquitous bowtie, and his many substantial accomplishments at TMC, and in our community.
    It was a pleasure to meet him 9 years ago, on the occasion of the annual Salute to Centenarians event, a gathering of our oldest Pima County residents started by TMC, in partnership with Pima Council on Aging, 28 years ago. Don Shropshire’s presence at this special annual event and his personal welcome to each centenarian, clearly meant alot to our special guests and their families and set the tone, noted by everyone including the elected and appointed officials, and groups of community volunteers who participated in the tradition of this special gathering.

    My deep condolences, respect and gratitude,
    Adina Wingate
    co-chair, Salute to Centenarians Committee
    Pima Council on Aging

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