This story originally appeared in the Winter 2020 edition of Promise magazine.
Summa Health benefactor Fred Damerow said he asked a lot of questions during his 30-year career at Goodyear Aerospace. Trained as a mechanical engineer, he wanted to know how things worked, why they were important, and how they helped make things better.
Fred still is asking those questions as a member of the Summa Health Cardiovascular Leadership Council. The answers he received from cardiologist Dr. Michael Hughes, president of Summa Health System — Barberton Campus, and Dr. Peter Bittenbender, Summa Health chief of structural heart disease, inspired Fred, who had no heart problems at the time, to give a generous gift to cardiology.
“I realized from Mike and Pete that there was a shortage of physicians who could perform the advanced procedures that Summa docs were doing,” he said. “That need precipitated my gift.”
Fred, an octogenarian, calls it a coincidence that he developed a heart problem later. He was accustomed to riding his bike 7-10 miles a day. When he began running out of energy too quickly, he went to see Dr. Bittenbender.
“I had a blocked artery, and Pete put in a couple stents,” Fred said. “I feel better and stronger. I joke with Pete; I tell him he’s a medical mechanical engineer.” Fred also called that connection a coincidence.
Some things, however, simply are meant to be. Fred met his late wife, Bonnie, to whom he was married for more than 60 years, when he was putting together a team for an impromptu game of sandlot baseball.
“We were just kids,” he said. “We needed a few more players so we had to take the girls who were left. One of those girls was Bonnie. That’s how we met.”
Fred and Bonnie, who was quite the athlete, turned out to be a great team for sandlot baseball and a great team for life.
Bonnie joined the Women’s Board of Summa Health at the urging of Margaret Clark, the wife of Bob Clark, Goodyear Aerospace president and Fred’s boss, and remained a volunteer for more than 35 years. Bonnie and Fred raised two boys together. After Fred retired from Goodyear Aerospace, he and Bonnie owned and operated an auto and truck leasing business with Bonnie as the vice president and chief financial officer.
It is no coincidence that Fred’s gift to Summa Health cardiology is in memory of his beloved wife and teammate, Bonnie.
For more information about the Heart and Vascular Institute, contact Jessica Hudson, system director of development, 330.375.4762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.