Gary resident Gregory Richards is turning the tragedy of losing his spouse into a mission that has the potential to help many.
Richards, 59, lost his wife Verta to metastasized pancreatic cancer in 2010 after an 18-month struggle.
“It is not that pancreatic cancer is so much more serious than most other types (of cancer)," he said. “It is simply that its symptoms are so subtle that they all too often go undiagnosed until late Stage 3, or even Stage 4, as in the case of my wife,” Richards said.
During her illness, Verta Richards was transferred from a local hospital to the University of Chicago Medical Centerand remained there for her extensive care.
“Within one hour of arrival there, the cause of her suffering was determined and action taken to make her better. After that, as far as we were concerned, the University of Chicago was the preferred health care facility for all of her medical needs,” Richards said.
“The care and compassion from their staff and the treatment she received through all of her ups and downs was the best. It was much later when we discovered their very high rating for cancer patient care and research.”
To repay the compassionate care he and his wife received, Richards formed the Verta Richards Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer in June, 2011. Proceeds benefit the Kindler Fund for Pancreatic Cancer Research at the University of Chicago. More than $20,000 has been donated to date.
“Verta had been employed by the State of Indiana Welfare Department for over 38 years and loved helping people help themselves, so we feel there could be no more of a fitting tribute to her,” Richards said.
The foundation’s annual golf outing and raffle is scheduled for Sept. 14 at Indian Ridge Golf Course, 6363 Grand Boulevard, Hobart.
Four-person scramble teams are sought and food and souvenirs are provided. More information can be found on Facebook by searching "Verta Richards Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer."
“We do encourage community involvement of companies and businesses through hole\tee box and banner sponsorship and merchandise for door prizes, along with team participation,” Richards said.
The father of three sons, Richards retired in 2004 from U.S. Steel after 35 years as an electrician, wireman, shift manager and safety consultant.