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Sturtz’s vision became reality with clinic

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Dr. George S. Sturtz passed away March 19. The death of someone with such vitality and strong personal presence always seems unexpected, no matter what their age. Never one to relax and rest on his laurels, he was always looking toward a new project. Just a few months ago, he was reformulating his plan to raise funds to pay off North Country Children’s Clinic’s mortgage on 238 Arsenal Street.“I want to make sure the agency is here long after we’re all gone,” he told us. His worry about the Children’s Clinic was deeply paternal; the agency was his baby. He understood, as only a seasoned pediatrician can, how desperately families need medical care and how important it is to provide it.

He also understood that education can be a powerful tool. Because of his strong foundation at the Mayo Clinic, he believed in solid public health principles: prevention and education. He could clearly articulate and demonstrate how to determine whether a child was healthy and trained a cadre of registered nurses to provide a cost-effective, efficient system of well-child service delivery. He made it easy for young parents to learn how to raise healthy, happy children.

In a memoir he wrote for us last year, he profiled a number of individuals who helped take the idea of making health care available to every child in the north country and turn it into a reality.

He mentioned Congressman Robert McEwen, Sen. Douglas Barclay, Carman Bocciolatt, Dick Charles, Rev. Nelson Sholette and Catholic Charities, Rev. Michael Metcalf and Trinity Episcopal Church, Dr. Arthur Peckham and the Watertown (now Northern New York Community) Foundation, John Cole and the North Side Improvement League, and his partner Dr. Robert Brown. He outlined the contribution of each and ended by saying “without (each individual’s name) there never would have been a North Country Children’s Clinic.”

In reality, the idea itself, the structure, the training and the medical muscle to make it happen was his. Over our 43-year history, hundreds of staff and board members, volunteers, donors and community members have helped to make his vision a reality. Today, tens of thousands of children have been protected against life-threatening diseases by our immunizations. Thousands have grown into healthy adults, because our early diagnosis and treatment of medical problems, from heart defects to hearing loss, allowed them to do so. The north country is a stronger, healthier community because of the Children’s Clinic — and there wouldn’t have been a Children’s Clinic without George Sturtz.

We salute his vision, we applaud his willingness to share his knowledge, and we thank him for everything he has done for North Country Children’s Clinic, and for the children of the north country.

Elaine P. Garvey, the clinic’s director of marketing, submitted this on behalf of the board of directors and staff of North Country Children’s Clinic.

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