Rathmell honored for Love Light Tree


Contact: Tammy G. Love

VP of Business Development

Phone: (336) 651-8116

Wilkes Journal-Patriot Staff

Dr. Dariel Rathmell, a Wilkes County physician for the past 25 years, is this year’s honoree for the Love Light Tree, located on top of Wilkes Regional Medical Center (WRMC).

A crowd packed the lobby for the 29th Love Light Tree ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Rain caused the ceremony to be moved from the doctor’s parking lot at WRMC.

The Love Light Tree is a fundraising project, sponsored by the WRMC Auxiliary. Each year the tree is dedicated to an individual or a group who has served the hospital.

Colleen Manolovich, president of the Auxiliary, announced this year’s recipient.

“Dr. Rathmell is known for truly displaying empathy and caring in an medical area she is involved in,” said Mrs. Manolovich.

“She truly loves and cares for many of her patients and their families and treats them as her extended family.

“Dr. Rathmell’s unique path to medical school through emergency medicine and a nursing degree has helped her understand all levels of healthcare,” said Mrs. Manolovich.

During college at Luther College in Iowa, Dr. Rathmell became an EMT and then became a licensed registered nurse at Columbia University in New York City.

“Her love of medicine finally led her to New Jersey Medical School with a residency in Madison, Wis.

Dr. Rathmell came to Wilkes County to practice internal medicine and has, in her own quiet way, influenced medicine here by serving on the boards of various organizations,” said Mrs. Manolovich.

These include the Wilkes Board of Health, the Health Foundation of Wilkes, the advisory board of Hospice and others. Dr. Rathmell has served a term as WRMC chief of staff and is a certified palliative care physician. She is an active member of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church of Wilkesboro.

Many members of Dr. Ratmell’s family surprised her by attending the reception, including her 88 year old father, Richard Rathmell of Lexington, Va. He joined Dr. Rathmell when the signal to light the tree was given by her.

Love Light Tree Ceremony

Jean Graff provided Christmas music, followed by the invocation by the Rev. John Shields of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Deborah Sullivan, corresponding secretary for the WRMC Auxiliary, thanked several people and groups for their role in the Love Light Tree. These included the WRMC maintenance staff, security, merchants and hospital staff who have helped with the decorated Christmas trees in the lobby, Jane Ashley, Carol Canter, Cathy Bennett and Dean’s Bistro which catered the reception following the ceremony.

Also speaking was Gene Faile, WRMC president. “The Love Light Tree project touches my heart,” said Faile. “It stands for the giving, caring, kindness, love and healing found at WRMC.”

Helen Eller, WRMC secretary, read a list of the past honorees of the Love Light Tree.

They are John Wesley Bryan Jr., Norma Stevenson Hubbard, Dr. William Lumsden Bundy, Ruth Long Graham RN, Hugh Durant Stetler, Deloris H. Porter, Alvin A. Sturdivant Jr., Fred J. Schilling I, Russell G. Pearson, Louis M. Kinney and Annette Kinney, Maintenance Department, Dietary Department, Stephen Lee Critz Jr., the David Henson Family, Dr. Jack A. Dawson, Dr. T.R. Bryan Jr., Mark Cullison, Sieglinde Duncan RN, Dr. Duane H. Smith, Barbara Willens, Betty Shelton, Debbie Ferguson, Heather Murphy, Paul Hugger, Dr. John Bond, Arnold Lakey, Dr. John Bennett and WRMC’s 45 surgical nurses and support staff, under the leadership of LaVerne Johnson.

Love Light Tree

Thousands of dollars are raised each year through the project, all donated to projects, scholarships or equipment needed at WRMC. Lights on the Love Light Tree can be purchased in honor or in memory of loved ones.

The Love Light Tree project continues through Christmas and into January. Each light on the body of the tree is $5 and $10 for a couple. Star points are $100 each and those lights within the star are $25 each.

Names are placed in a Book of Honor that will be on display in the lobby of WRMC during November and December.

All contributions to the Love Light Tree are tax-deductible. For more information call 651-8162.

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