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Elizabeth D. Strode Continues the Legacy She and Her Husband, Joseph W. Strode Jr., Established Before his Death in 2013. Not Only Volunteering Time and Remembering Chester County Hospital with Annual Contributions, They Also Established a Charitable Remainder Trust, Naming the Hospital as a Beneficiary.

Donor Stories - StrodePublished: The Chester County Hospital Foundation Donor Report FY2014

During the last five years of his life, Joe Strode spent a lot of time at Chester County Hospital in West Chester, PA. Based on the great care he received there, Betty and Joe knew they had made the right decision to provide for Chester County Hospital in their charitable gift planning. Besides giving annually to the 121-year-old not-for-profit health care institution, the couple, married for 60 years, established a charitable remainder trust, naming Chester County Hospital as a beneficiary.

The trust was structured to distribute income annually to Joe and Betty during their joint lives in an amount equal to a fixed percentage of the value of the trust assets, and then upon the death of the surviving spouse, any assets remaining in the trust go to the designated charities. "The Hospital was one of Joe's top priorities when he set up the trust," Betty recalls.

"Joe always got the best of care at Chester County Hospital," says Betty of his treatment for a kidney ailment during his last years. "The staff was wonderful and knowledgeable. When Joe was admitted to the ICU [intensive care unit] the care was amazing. We also noticed that the same people worked there for years, so we knew it was a good place to be when you're sick."

In addition to being generous donors to Chester County Hospital, the Strodes also volunteered there in several capacities. Betty manned the Chester County Hospital treat cart for many years. And together Betty and Joe -- who was a third-generation partner in Strode's Sausage & Scrapple, a business his grandfather started in 1876 -- volunteered as transportation escorts, helping patients to and from their rooms to Radiology. They also pitched in at the May Festival, a popular former annual fundraiser for Chester County Hospital. "I remember when it was a small event at Marshall Square Park," says Betty. "The children had a great time at the fair with pony rides and a few booths. How it grew -- to a three-day event with a gala the night before the festival opened."

Betty, a native of Plainfield, NJ, has seen so many changes at Chester County Hospital since she married Joe and moved to West Chester, PA in 1952. "I remember when the main Hospital entrance was on the south side of the building," she reminisces. "The Hospital had wards back then. My son was hospitalized over Christmas holiday for appendicitis in 1962. I was so upset because he was in the Hospital for the holiday. Turns out he knew two other kids on the ward, Santa Claus visited them and he had a ball. He didn't miss home at all."

Betty said she has seen the emergency room change shape and expand services four times now. She has seen Chester County Hospital embrace new technology and medical treatments and pay attention to important details like improved food service and menus. She has seen it go from wards, to semi-private rooms, now moving toward all-private rooms.

"You'll never know when you need the Hospital," says Betty. "I think it's one of the most important institutional services in your life. We're lucky to have such a great facility right here in our community."

By Gail Guterl

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