I have recently retired, but was employed for the past 43 years at The Dalles General Hospital/Mid-Columbia Medical Center in the realms of Nursing, Mid-Columbia Health Foundation, Spiritual Care, and Volunteer Services.
My day and my life dramatically changed the day Bill Probstfield and his wife Janet dropped into the Volunteer Services office in 1995 to learn about volunteering for our hospital.
Bill had recently retired as Washington County Sheriff, having served the second largest county in Oregon from 1983 to 1992.
Following his service in the Navy as a hospital corpsman, he joined the Washington County Sherriff's Office in 1968. During his tenure there he implemented the DARE program, their first K-9 Unit, and their first SWAT Team.
He moved back to The Dalles, his home town and his community, in 1994 to assist his elderly mother (Lefa) after his father (Merritt) passed away.
Bill and Janet Probstfield signed up to volunteer with our MCMC Care-A-Van program, driving seniors and disabled community members to medical appointments throughout the region.
I can't tell you how many patients, their families and support persons shared accolades of their kindness and compassion.
Literally thousands of miles were covered from Maupin to Rufus to Mosier, with Bill driving and Janet being the navigator.
There were lots of rural, difficult to find places.
Bill always took the time to take a little excursion with a scenic outing or an ice cream cone.
Many times they would facilitate a trip into a grocery or drug store since the patient could not get out on their own.
Bill served many years on our Mid-Columbia Health Foundation Board, and was an excellent leader as our foundation president. He was committed to reaching out to meet needs within all age ranges and in all communities within Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Morrow counties.
MCHF grants supported children, seniors, and those in need; and improved lives and enhanced our communities.
Recognizing the importance of embracing spirituality, Bill fully supported training for our area nurses in parish nursing. He also completed the training and participated in many of the community events.
He was vital in organizing and facilitating a very successful Hispanic Health Fair and contributed parish nursing health tips to many weekly church bulletins.
Bill was a man with a second chance at life. He was fortunate to have a double-lung transplant in 2005 after many years with emphysema and chronic lung issues.
There is an incredible sacrifice when one has a transplant. He and his wife Janet worked very hard every single day to keep Bill strong and healthy. It was hard work!
Bill was an educated man. He graduated from the FBI National Academy and the National Sheriff's Institute of USC. He graduated from The Dalles High School (along with his twin sister) in 1958. He earned a bachelor degree in administration of justice and an associate degree in criminal justice, management and teaching at Portland State. He completed a master's degree in public administration at Lewis and Clark University in 1988.
Bill was a talented man. He was a commercial pilot and a flight instructor at Hillsboro Aviation. He enjoyed public speaking and volunteered with the Patriot Guard Riders.
He proudly served our country and he was a respectful and honorable man.
Bill was blessed with a big heart. He was a member of the Shriners, the Masons, and volunteered many hours at Mid-Columbia Medical Center over the years.
He visited at the Oregon Veteran's Home and was truly appreciated for his encouraging words. In 1999, he was chosen as the recipient of the Mid-Columbia Health Foundation Volunteer of the Year Award; recognizing his many kind and generous contributions to the Mid-Columbia Region.
Bill was a lifesaver! Bill's passion was helping individuals with emphysema and pulmonary disease. He had the life experiences of the severe lung disease for many years and ultimately his lung transplant. With his new lease on life, he made it his mission to be a friend/mentor/coach/support to anyone and everyone with lung disease.
He joined Susan Benedict RN, the MCMC Pulmonary Clinic Manager at Water's Edge regularly as a guest speaker for every Pulmonary Clinic session and support group as well as community health fairs. The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic was his venue to help change lives; always on the alert to help others. He walked along side, he shared his experiences, he listened, and he taught others tricks for breathing better.
Bill even wrote a book in 2003; "Smell the Rose, Blow Out the Candle," to share his perspective on his personal journey with his emphysema.
He encouraged, cajoled, prayed with, laughed and loved those he was helping with their lung disease. He is my Home Town Hero!
There will be a Celebration of Life for Bill Probstfeild on Saturday, March 24, at 2 p.m. at the Calvary Baptist Church, 3350 Columbia View Drive, The Dalles.