Wortman looks over the colorful plates located in the front area of the new cancer center. Each plate bears the name of someone who has donated to the cancer center. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)
Wortman looks over the colorful plates located in the front area of the new cancer center. Each plate bears the name of someone who has donated to the cancer center. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)
GREENFIELD — Bob Wortman knows the relationship he and his wife, Sue, shared was rare.

It seemed like they did everything together, he said. From their earliest days to her last, they were side by side, building a successful business and raising a prosperous family.

They were childhood sweethearts, Wortman said. Growing up in Morristown, they knew many of the same people and attended the same schools. When he graduated and joined the Marines, he carried her picture around with him. They had been married nearly 60 years when she died this year.

He wishes he could find that old photo now. It captured her essence much better than any picture taken during the last few years of her life. It would have made the perfect image to display in the cancer center at Hancock Regional Hospital — the building Wortman has decided to name in his wife’s memory.

Wortman recently made a contribution to the Hancock Regional Hospital Foundation that put funding for the hospital’s cancer center “over the top,” said Nancy Davis, foundation executive director. The gift earned him naming rights to the building. The center will now be called the Sue Ann Wortman Cancer Center, and the foundation will celebrate Bob Wortman’s generosity at a ceremony in November.

The Hancock Regional Hospital Board of Trustees forged plans to build a new cancer center after Indiana University Health moved its linear accelerator, which is used for radiation therapy, out of Hancock County. The board realized it would need to build its own facility or force its patients to seek treatment elsewhere.

That wasn’t an ideal option, Davis said; and hospital officials set up a temporary cancer care center in the hospital’s basement until construction on a new facility began in June 2014.

The new cancer center is a two-story, 27,000-square-foot building added to the south end of the hospital campus along East Boyd Avenue in Greenfield. It opened this summer after a year of construction.

Davis said Hancock County residents rallied together to raise millions of dollars to help pay for construction, equipment and ongoing operations of the new center. Those donations made building the center possible, she added.

Wortman’s donation will be used to create an endowment through the foundation. Endowment funds are designated to cover the costs of operating facilities at the hospital, said Rob Matt, chief operating officer.

Because the cost of delivering care is higher than the center’s profits will be, donations like Wortman’s help bridge the gaps, Matt said.

Although Sue Wortman never received cancer treatment at Hancock Regional Hospital, any medical care she needed originated at the place, her husband said.

Bob Wortman said his wife fought a number of medical battles in her lifetime, including breast cancer and lung cancer that required her to use an oxygen tank for most of her life.

No matter what the malady, Wortman brought his wife to Hancock Regional Hospital. Even if treatments sent her to specialists in Indianapolis, the Wortmans always entrusted their medical care to Greenfield’s doctors, he said.

The couple never gave a second thought to donating to the institution that helped them so often, Wortman said. He joined the hospital foundation board two decades ago and has been supporting its causes ever since.

Wortman said he sees donating as part of being a good businessman. He founded J.R. Wortman Co., a Morristown heating, plumbing and electrical supply firm.

Giving back to the community is a way to show his appreciation, he said.

“I can’t understand why everybody doesn’t want to,” he said. “Everybody can give something, whether it be time or dollars.

“I owe the community,” he continued. “It’s been good to me and made it possible for me to do what I’m doing. We never doubted that anything we earned would go back into the community. The community had been too good to us.”

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