Dee Hilton honored as “Friend of the Foundation” at hospital gala


More than $132,000 was raised at the Ninth Annual Laughter is the Best Medicine Comedy Gala, hosted by the Hunt Regional Healthcare Foundation last Saturday night, March 29. A crowd of more than 370 packed the ballroom in the Sam Rayburn Student Center at Texas A&M Commerce-University to hear headlining comedienne Jeanne Robertson and show their support for healthcare in Hunt County.

In addition to the highly applauded comedic entertainment, the evening’s paramount moment was the annual presentation of the Harold Curtis Friend of the Foundation Award to philanthropist and former board chair, W.D. “Dee” Hilton, Jr.

The award was presented by Leah Curtis, daughter of the late Harold Curtis, who spent more than 50 years serving as the hospital’s legal counsel and who devoted countless hours to helping create the foundation that would contribute to changing the lives of area patients and their families through access to better healthcare in their communities. Shortly after his death in 2006, an award was created to honor those who have followed his path by dedicating their time, talent and financial resources to meet the needs of others through the foundation.

“Dee Hilton is the embodiment of a friend of the foundation,” said Alicia Wittkopf, executive director of the Hunt Regional Healthcare Foundation.

“Having served the organization as past board chair, his service to the foundation and our community is immeasurable,” said Wittkopf.

Hilton’s selection as this year’s recipient is especially poignant, as he shared a special relationship with the award’s namesake.

“When I was 12 and 13 years old, Harold was my Sunday school teacher,” said Hilton, recalling Curtis’s work as his father’s attorney from the late 50s until Curtis’s death.

Both Hilton and Curtis served as board members for the Greenville Board of Development. The pair also worked together through multiple hospital bond elections and were both strong advocates for the expansion of healthcare in the area.

“Most importantly to me, Harold was a role model of service to our community,” said Hilton.

Hilton served on the Hunt Regional Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees as vice-chair when the foundation reactivated in 2004. He became board chair in 2007 and was responsible for spearheading the “Help on Wheels” campaign, which made mobile mammography in Hunt County a reality.

“The response of the foundation board and the medical community to the challenge of providing the mobile mammography coach for our citizens is meeting a need that will save lives for many years,” said Hilton.

Hilton says he is humbled by the award and its representation of five decades of service by Harold Curtis.

“There are several others I would have chosen if it had been my decision,” said Hilton.

Past award recipients include Zach Wilson, Wyman Williams, Nita “Tubby” Adkisson, Jack Finney, Scott Weaver, Cullen Family Foundation, Hospital Auxiliary Groups, Mary Rich Lynch, Ron and Julia Wensel, Janeen Cunningham, Don Bolin, Dr. and Mrs. James Sandin and Norma Mitchell.

To see the full list of 2014 sponsors, click here. For more information about the Hunt Regional Healthcare Foundation, call 903-408-1064.

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