Beaufort Memorial foundation honors Keyserling director, husband

info@islandpacket.comNovember 13, 2012 

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Chuck Duke, right, watches as his wife Connie Duke, center, director of Beaufort Memorial's Keyserling Cancer Center, is congratulated by occupational therapist Chris Nietert after Connie and her husband were both presented the "Spirit of Giving" award in honor of their philanthropy and volunteerism. The Beaufort Memorial Foundation presented the award at its annual meeting Tuesday evening at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

SARAH WELLIVER — Sarah Welliver

Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation trustees surprised Keyserling Cancer Center director Connie Duke and her husband, Chuck, with the Spirit of Giving Award during the nonprofit group's annual meeting Tuesday.

Getting the Beaufort couple to the meeting to present them with the unexpected honor required no elaborate scheme or pretense -- the Dukes were already there, volunteering.

"All we had to do was ask and, as usual, they were happy to help," foundation executive director Alice Moss said in a prepared statement. "Whenever we need them, they're there."

The Spirit of Giving Award is bestowed annually to an employee who has made extra effort to support the hospital and encourage giving to the foundation.

Although Chuck Duke is not a hospital employee, he is a devoted volunteer, according to a foundation news release.

"We couldn't give the award to Connie without including Chuck," Moss said. "He has literally done the heavy lifting for us."

At the foundation's estate-sale fundraiser last year, the retiree loaded goods for shoppers and made countless trips across town delivering furniture. He also is part of the volunteer team that runs the hospital's courtesy shuttle. In fact, Tuesday night, he drove guests from the parking lot to the newly renovated emergency department where the meeting was held this year, according to the foundation release.

Connie Duke was working the event, as well. She took members and guests on a preview tour of the new ER, set to open in January, according to the release.

"She's always willing to do anything you ask her to do," Moss said. "I can't tell you the amount of after-work hours she has put in speaking to groups on behalf of the foundation."

The Dukes also contribute regularly to the foundation and attend its Valentine Ball fundraiser each year, the release said.

The Spirit of Giving Award was presented to the Dukes by foundation trustee Audrey McBratney Bittner, who is stepping down after nearly 20 years between the foundation and hospital boards.

Bittner also was honored Tuesday as trustee emeritus, a designation bestowed to just one other person, Sumner Pingree, in the foundation's 24-year history.

The board elected Richard Pingree as a new trustee, replacing Bittner on the foundation board. This year's slate of officers also was approved. They are E. Whilden Nettles as chairman, William B. Harvey III as vice chairman, Elizabeth Malinowski as treasurer and Marilyn Harcharik as secretary.

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