WOMAN OF THE YEAR HELPS COMMUNITY MEET DIETARY, NUTRITIONAL NEEDS
Susan Lewis wasn't paying a whole lot of attention during Tuesday night's Union County Chamber of Commerce annual banquet as a speaker started to introduce an award recipient.
When Lewis heard presenter Carlene Crampton mention the word "dietetic" her ears perked up.
A few more clues Â— "hospital," "soccer mom," "puppet shows for children" really got her attention.
The next thing she knew, she was being escorted to the podium to receive recognition as the chamber's 2002 Woman of the Year as 350 people rose to their feet to applaud.
"I was overwhelmed and flattered, surprised," she said a couple of days later in her office at Grande Ronde Hospital, where she has been clinical and administrative dietitian for 26 years.
"There are a lot of people who deserve the honor more than I do. I feel very humbled to have received this honor."
Others are sure she is deserving of the award, as witnessed by their calls, e-mails, flowers, balloons.
"I'm extremely grateful to the hospital, my family, my good friends who have supported me. You don't get awards like this without the support of your family and community," Lewis said.
"The hospital has supported me 100 percent in all my endeavors," she said.
She operates the dietary outpatient clinic for the hospital, seeing all kinds of people to help them with whatever problems they have, whether diabetics, people in need of weight management, cholesterol management or other nutritional needs.
"I manage the hospital food service with the help of a wonderful staff," Lewis said.
Diabetics has been a major interest of hers for years, and she became a certified diabetic educator in 1999.
She teaches classes in nutrition for different groups, such as Boy Scouts and at Eastern Oregon University. She has taught such groups as TOPS and other weightwatchers' groups.
She started a Step Program, a 12-week weight-loss class for six-member teams.
She conducts a pre-natal class every six weeks. She has instructed in cardiac nutrition care.
"I see patients on the floor, working on new menu development."
She designed a wellness class for hospital employees and spouses, which occurs before and after her regular hospital hours. The program continues to grow.
She has been a speaker for nursing classes at Eastern Oregon University and assisted with WIC and Head Start programs.
Lewis, who was born in Baker City in 1953, earned a bachelor of science in dietetics at Oregon State, graduating in 1973 with honors.
She interned at the Cornell Medical College's New York City Hospital for three years before taking a job there.
Her mother, Anne Kirkpatrick, had been a dietitian at Grande Ronde Hospital, although she wasn't in that position when Lewis was hired.
Lewis said she has no idea how many hours a week she devotes to dietary and nutritional needs of the community.
But she has found time outside work to volunteer as a soccer mom for teams on which her daughter, Nicole, plays. Nicole, 16, and a junior at La Grande High School, has been on the varsity since she was a freshman, Lewis said.
Nicole also sings, which has led to Lewis helping out in fund raising for the school choir. The mom will be among the chaperones when the students travel to New York City.
Lewis is a member of the First Presbyterian Church, serving as a deacon. She has participated in the church choir and taught Sunday School classes for several years. She is active in the Soroptimist Club, having served as president. She works every spring on the group's annual Riverside Park breakfast.
Lewis is past president of the local chapter of PEO and serves on that organization's scholarship committee.
She was still basking in the limelight at the hospital late last week, with colorful balloons piling up near her office door.
She has been on the Grande Ronde Symphony board of directors.
She is a member of the Oregon Dietetic Association, having served as a board member and as treasurer. The group named her Young Dietitian of the Year in the late 1980s.
She has been married to CPA Brent Lewis for 23 years.
One of the treasures she has, she said, is the plaque handed down to her from her late grandmother, Lucille Lumsden of La Grande. It was the 1966 Woman of the Year award presented by the chamber of commerce.
Now, she has one of her own to go with it.