IRON MOUNTAIN - Rev. David Anderson will retire on Aug. 31 from his position as chaplain at Dickinson County Hospital.
"Chaps," as he is known to friends and colleagues alike, has served the patients and employees of Dickinson County Healthcare System for 25 years since beginning his hospital chaplaincy on July 7, 1987.
"His presence and influence have been felt throughout the healthcare system by patients and their families as well as employees, and he will be missed," a spokesperson said.
During his career he facilitated numerous support groups including the Chronic Illness Support Group, the Cancer Support Group, and the Loss and Grief Support Group. He also officiated at an annual memorial service for parents who lost their children giving them a formal and meaningful way to remember them.
In addition, he coordinated and presided over the Babyland Burial Services for all families who experienced the premature death of their child. The Babyland Burial has now expanded to include Iron Mountain, Norway and Iron County. He also served on the ethics committee, managed and implemented the Patient Benevolent Fund with the hospital social workers, initiated the Thanksgiving and Easter Dinners along with the Dietary Department, conducted annual food drives, and distributed ashes from the hospital Chapel every year on Ash Wednesday.
Over the years, Chaplain Anderson has also conducted a multitude of weddings, memorial services, prayer services, and baptisms in the hospital Chapel for many employees and their families.
"He has been the steady, calm presence during many difficult medical crises. His door has always been open to patients and staff alike to listen and counsel through difficult days and help them find their strength to see their way through the rough spots in their lives. Finally, his presence at events to provide prayer and humor will be greatly missed. His retirement will create a void that will be impossible to fill for his work was him," a spokesperson added.
While the position of Hospital Chaplain will not continue beyond Rev. Anderson's retirement, his work and influence will continue through the many programs and initiatives he implemented. Most specifically, Elizabeth Mrozinski, hospital social worker, and Don LaLonde will co-facilitate the Loss and Grief Support Group. Between now and the end of August, other "batons will be passed."
Chaplain Anderson expressed his appreciation to everyone who has allowed him to minister to them, whether a co-worker, patient, family member or visitor from the community.
"I have met so many wonderful people through my work over the years who have shared their struggles and have actually helped me to become a better ministering person," noted Chaplain Anderson.
"I am so richly blessed to have been invited to walk with so many in their crises and to think that they asked for my pastoral care and guidance is truly humbling,"
"I want to thank the hospital administration and board for supporting the chaplaincy program all these years," he added. "I also want to thank the Dickinson staff for making referrals and calling upon me to offer pastoral care to them and to our families in their most difficult hours."
"My heart will always be with Dickinson County Healthcare System; it has been such a wonderful, eye-opening experience seeing the hospital grow and expand into the excellent healthcare provider that it is."
"Having worked within the hospital and being a patient there many times personally, I know what a great service is provided there on a daily basis," he said.
Having made the move to full retirement, Rev, Anderson plans to enjoy a more "freed up schedule" to spend time with his wife and best friend, Marie. The Anderson's have family in Los Angeles and Grand Rapids who will now receive more visits and quality time together.
He plans to continue to pastor the Grace Presbyterian Church of Sagola, but will no longer be available to officiate the many weddings and to accept the many community speaking engagements that he has done throughout the years.
"I will truly miss the families and friends who have allowed me to celebrate the good times in their lives as well," he added. "God bless all of you, and again thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives and your journey."