History of Eisenhower

Distinguished people are set apart from peers by their continuing deeds. The late Dolores and Bob Hope were clearly among the world’s most distinguished philanthropists. For more than 30 years, they took time away from their incredible careers, their family, their friends and many other causes to support the health care institution they envisioned. As a result, Eisenhower Medical Center is now able to celebrate four decades of compassionate service.

The story dates back to 1966, "A year," said Eisenhower Medical Center Board Chairman Emeritus Dolores Hope, "that changed our lives significantly."

Two events that year shaped the course of the future. Internationally-renowned entertainer Bob Hope was asked to lend his name to the Desert Classic golf tournament and to serve on the board of the hospital which would be built from tournament proceeds. Unable to meet the required time commitment, he suggested that his wife serve instead. Because of her dedicated involvement in numerous philanthropic causes, she was, thought the legendary comedian, perfect for the job. In what became a life-changing moment, Dolores Hope agreed to become a board member. From that day, she energetically participated in every major decision and served continuously from 1968 until her passing as President, Chairman of the Board of Directors and as Founding Chairman Emeritus of Eisenhower Medical Center.

Familiar with many roles as entertainers, partners, parents and humanitarians, Dolores and Bob Hope somehow made time for this one more important role. Since those early days, were the driving forces behind the creation and long-term growth of this world renowned medical center.

Tireless in their efforts from the outset, they donated the original 80 acres of land for the new mid-valley hospital, then were instrumental in raising private funds so it could be built. Because of their stature in the entertainment industry, events such as dedications and fundraisers took on an excitement few attendees had experienced. Leaders like President Richard Nixon, President Gerald Ford, Vice President Spiro Agnew, President George Bush and Governor Ronald Reagan took part in important ceremonies; celebrities like Frank Sinatra, George Burns, Bing Crosby, Gene Autry and Lucille Ball contributed their enormous talents and resources to the medical center’s cause.

When ground was broken for the hospital in 1969, it was the first of many such ceremonies Bob Hope would emcee through the years. Two months later, Dolores spearheaded the formation of the Eisenhower Medical Center Auxiliary, a group which grew from a handful of people into one of the most successful volunteer organizations of its kind in the world.

When Bob emceed the hospital’s opening in November of 1971, it was cause for much celebration. But it was only a brief respite from the hard work of running and supporting a medical center. As President, Dolores helped to direct Eisenhower Medical Centers continued growth and expansion. Together, the Hopes presented tributes to Mr. and Mrs. Walter Probst, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Kiewit and Mrs. Harold (Hazel) Wright at the openings of medical buildings bearing their names, and presided over the dedication of the new 47-bed Mamie Eisenhower Wing of Eisenhower Hospital.

During the 1980s, the medical center branched into critical new areas. Although they were involved in countless other charitable activities and had an exhausting schedule of benefits and performances, the Hopes continued to be part of every important medical center event, including the planning and openings of the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences, Betty Ford Center, Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, Dolores Hope Outpatient Care Center, and Uihlein Administration Building.

Over the years, the Hopes received nearly every award and accolade bestowed worldwide (including a combined total of 60 honorary doctorate degrees!) to recognize their incredible legacy. In 1996, in conjunction with Eisenhower Medical Center’s 25th anniversary, they received the medical center’s most prestigious award: the Eisenhower Centennial Award.

Bob Hope died on July 27, 2003, just two months after his 100th birthday. His death was mourned by millions of people around the world. Members of the Eisenhower Medical Center family, many of whom had long and very special relationships with him, were particularly affected by his passing. Dolores Hope continued to serve on the Board of Directors of Eisenhower Medical Center and as Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees until her passing on September 19, 2011. Their vision will remain an important part of Eisenhower Medical Center as its growth and development continues.

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