Former resident honored with clinic dedication ceremony
MANISTIQUE – A rainy first day of summer wasn’t enough to deter the crowd gathered outside Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital to honor former resident Alan W. Ott. Overflowing a small tent set in the parking lot of the new $24 million facility, residents and visitors put a face to the name as the Alan W. Ott Rural Health Clinic was officially dedicated.
Ott is part of the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, based in Midland, Mich., which awarded SMH with a $500,000 gift toward the capital campaign.
He was born in Manistique in 1931 and grew up on North 2nd Street. While attending Manistique High School, Ott took a part-time job as a bookkeeper at the First National Bank of Manistique. He graduated in 1950 and, soon after, served in the Korean War.
Upon his return to the states, Ott resumed his work with First National Bank before taking a position in Clare, Mich. There, he met and married his wife, Jean, who was a teller at the time. Together they had two children, a son named Jeff and a daughter named Amy.
After relocating to Midland, Ott joined the Chemical Bank and Trust Co. as a cashier in 1962. In 1972, Ott was named president and chief executive officer of Chemical Bank in Midland and Chemical Financial Corp. He became Chairman in 1986.
During his tenure with the bank, he led Chemical’s steady growth, acquiring more than 17 banks across the Lower Peninsula. In 2003, the Michigan Bankers Association named Ott its banker of the year.
Today, Ott serves as director emeritus of Chemical Financial Corp., the second largest bank holding company, with assets of nearly $6 billion.
Ott, along with his children and Jean, were just a few of well names in attendance Friday. Mayor David Peterson, City Manager Sheila Aldrich, Sen. Tom Casperson, USDA Rural Development State Director Jim Turner, representatives from Rep. Dan Benishek, Sen. Carl Levin, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s offices, and Attorney General Bill Schuette showed there support for both the hospital and Ott by attended the ceremony.
According to SMH CEO George Montgomery, the dedication ceremony served as a follow-up to the community ribbon-cutting ceremony which took place in April.
“Our board, our staff, has worked toward this for more than eight years,” he said. “It’s a lot more than just a hospital, inpatient facility; it is a wellness center, a place for to care for patients on an outpatient basis, treatment and diagnostic services. We believe it will be a place to meet our needs for many places to come.”
Don Perigo, SMH board chairman and chairman of hospital’s capital campaign, which raised over $1 million, acknowledged and thanked his fellow board members.
“The board has maintained a strong resolve to provide a facility worthy of the exemplary staff and quality of services that they deliver,” he said. “Further, we have been passionate in our belief that the citizens of central U.P. deserve a modern facility that can adapt to today’s modalities of health care delivery.”
Dr. Tom Miles, SMH chief of staff, expressed his appreciation for Ott and the foundation on which he served.
“It would have been a little awkward to have the hospital here and not have the clinic here,” he explained. “Mr. Ott, through the Gerstacker Foundation, has made a substantial donation to make sure that happened.”
Peterson read the city’s resolution to declare June 21, 2013 Alan W. Ott day, which Manistique Area Schools Superintendent Kathy
McDonough presented Ott with a Distinguished Alumni award for the class of 1950.
Schuette, a friend of Ott’s and fellow Foundation member, lent his support for the clinic’s dedication in Ott’s honor.
“He (Ott) solves problems, he fixes things and he repairs relationships,” Schuette said. “And when you can do things like that … communities blossom and they’re stronger and richer in every sense of the word.”
He noted Ott had been serving the Midland/Saginaw Bay area, as well as areas around Michigan for five decades.
“Without him, none of these foundations would operate the way they do now,” he said. “He teaches us all, who’s on those boards, how we should behave, perform … he models a level of excellence that is second to none.”
Schuette joked that he had many “Alan Ott-isms” he garnered from the man himself, and applies them in his daily life – in particular, the “can-do” approach.
“He would bring in all his attorneys, and, particularly when he didn’t get the answer he wanted, he would look at us and say, ‘Give me some can-do attorneys’,” he explained. “Every attorney in that room realized he wanted the problem solved.”
In addition to seeking people who can get the job done, Schuette said Ott also taught him to only ask for advice if he was willing to take it, and that he wouldn’t win every battle.
“He is a teacher, advisor and friend,” he said. “Some of my most pleasing experiences in my week is when I can spend time with Alan.”
Schuette explained that Ott’s success can be attributed to his upbringing – in particular, to the city of Manistique.
“You can’t do all these great things, like Alan Ott, unless you come from someplace really good, and this Manistique is a really good place,” he said. “It’s a place where, I’m sure, Alan Ott, with the help of his family, learned about the values of hard work. These are small town values that have had big time impact and he learned them from a very good place called Manistique.”
Jeff Ott, Alan’s son, spoke on behalf on his father in acknowledgement of the dedication.
“He is deeply honored to be with you today for the dedication,” Ott said. “He was in high school when they broke ground on the first Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital and he can still remember the excitement in the community as the facility began to take shape.
My father is deeply honored to have the new Rural Health Clinic named for him,” he continued. “While he has lived away from this community for many years … it will always be his home.”