Tucson notables gathered in the TMC Women of Honor Courtyard in late March to celebrate the community advocacy and dedication of Mary Ruth Shropshire.
Mary Ruth is the widow of Don Shropshire – TMC’s chief executive for 25 years and president emeritus for 23 more until he passed in 2015. While TMC grew to more than twice its size under Don’s leadership, he remained a staunch advocate for the hospital to remain nonprofit and independent. In addition, the bow-tied visionary was respected for his civility and passion – taking the time to shake the hand of every TMC employee during the holidays.
Yet, Don could not have reached such incredible accomplishments without the constant support, advocacy and encouragement of his wife of nearly 65 years, Mary Ruth.
Smiles and laughs filled the courtyard as attendees shared nostalgic stories. The Rev. Bruce Martin, former associate pastor of Catalina Baptist Church where he and Mary Ruth worked with the youth, offered the blessing, followed by anecdotes about the Shropshire family.
About 30 attendees, including Dr. Harold Willingham, Ed and Judy Parker, Tracy and Linda Nuckolls, Jerry and Ann Gilmore, Judy and Rich Polheber, Marian Rogerson and TMC CEO, Judy Rich chuckled and sighed during the recollections.
With her signature grace and aplomb, the 90-year-old Mary Ruth sincerely thanked all for coming. “I appreciate all of you – and what you have done over the years for TMC,” she said, while sitting next to the Women of Honor bench dedicated in her name.
An event honoring Mary Ruth would not be complete without an entertaining story. Mary Ruth shared one of her favorite Joe Hayes’ Native-American stories, “My Pet Rattlesnake.” All were spellbound by the unbelievable narrative from the semi-retired professional storyteller, only to erupt into laughter as the witty ending revealed it was all a tall tale.
The Rev. William Killian, former TMC chaplain and close friend of the Shropshires, wrapped up the dedication with an original acrostic poem honoring Mary Ruth and her attributes.
“The beautiful morning and gathering were a perfect tribute to Mary Ruth and her long commitment to our community,” said Michael Duran, TMC vice president and chief development officer. “TMC and the TMC Foundation honor the leadership and commitment that Mary Ruth and the entire Shropshire family have shown – and we are forever grateful for the inspiration and accomplishment they have provided TMC and our community.”