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Bishop McGraw of the San Jose Catholic Diocese spoke of George’s unwavering commitment to see the high school through to completion, which is why I continue to serve as a board member and a big supporter of that project.” Susan Krajewski worked with George for seven years to develop the Catholic high school project. “I’ve never met anyone as focused as George Chiala was when it came to achieving a positive outcome in every situation,” Krajewski said. “He would set an enormous goal be- fore our group and assure us of his confidence in our abilities, then he gave us the freedom to get the job done. He left people feeling they couldn’t settle for anything less than success. His legacy is alive in South County through the people who now champion his passions. George was a remarkable, giving man with a loving spirit.”  Carl Reinhardt’s friendship with George went back about 20 years when his wife Jeri and Alice Chiala worked together on a school lunch program at St. Catherine’s. “We became friends while working on the Catholic high school project. George also engaged my services as a financial investment advisor. After church, or meetings about the project, we’d sit for a while and talk about our families. One day George said, ‘Carl, every time I start a new project I hit you up for money, and every time you start a new project you hit me up for money. We’ve gotta make some new friends!’ George had perseverance and a strong faith. He was always helping people whether it was workers in need of housing or something else. With the high school project, h e was not only the linchpin, bringing together his family and friends and the Diocese, but he was very generous in donating money and land, and his family continues to support the project. I don’t think there was a mean bone in that man’s body. He may have been disappointed when things didn’t go as hoped, but he never said a negative thing about anybody. I guess you could say he is the Saint George of Morgan Hill.” Healthcare Advocate George served on the board of the St. Louise Regional Hospital Foundation for more than 20 years, including a number of years as its chair. The foundation raises funds to improve Saint Louise Hospital facilities and equipment as well as services provided to patients and their families. With George’s passing, the foundation offered to take on the hosting of the annual fundraiser, which traditionally took place at the Chiala’s Fountain Oaks estate. This year’s Harvest Moon Gala event was held at the Guglielmo Winery. A tremendous turnout and generous donations made for a fitting tribute to George’s deep and lasting commitment to healthcare in South County. In 2016, Mary Eileen “Dub” Drees took on the role of Executive Director, Community Relations & Philanthropy with Verity Health System, which includes St. Louise Hospital. 74 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Shortly after that, she met George. “There was a sparkle in his eye as he spoke about Saint Louise’s mission,” Drees said. “Despite his personal health challenges, he wanted to stay active on the board to help with the fundraiser and to connect more people with St. Louise.” “It was a labor of love for our event committee. The choice of the Harvest Moon theme was a nod to George’s farming heritage. He had loved opera so we brought in an opera singer to perform. Every member put something of themselves into it. Joe Aiello brought the centerpiece pumpkins. Judy Bonino brought a truck of vintage produce displayed for guests to enjoy.” “Harvest Moon grossed $310,000 in donations to the George Chiala Sr. Memorial Fund. The funds will support renovations to the hospital’s Emergency Department. Another cause near and dear to George’s heart was women’s health. During the event we did a paddle raise to invite donations to provide digital mammograms for uninsured women in South County. Alice Chiala started it off at $10,000, and the final tally was $96,000 in donations. The digital mammograms are now being offered at the De Paul Urgent Care Center and at St. Louise Hospital.” “George and his family have established a beautiful legacy,” Dreees added. Mary Beth Anderson served as a funding co-chair on the Catholic high school project, and later joined the board of the St. Louise Hospital Foundation. She was Gala Chair for the Harvest Moon event. According to Anderson, “George had a vision for improved quality of healthcare in South County. I had learned of his vision and gotten to know Alice while we were on a pilgrimage together in France. About six years ago he recruited me to serve on the hospital foundation board. He was a tremendous source of inspiration to us, and Alice continues to be. They loved having people gather at Fountain Oaks for good causes. George got a kick out of having people stand around the piano and sing together.” “George would say that people make decisions about where to retire based on having quality health care in the community. He was excited about the future of St. Louise Hospital, and now others are sharing in his excitement. We hope to see the George Chiala Sr. Memorial Fund grow and continue to fund improvements of the hospital facility and equipment, and the quality of care for patients and their families.” “At the Harvest Moon event, St. Louise Hospital Chief Administrative Officer John Hennelly said that there were 16,000 women in South County alone who could benefit from access to digital mammogram services right here in our community so they didn’t have to drive a long distance. Event committee member Debbi Sanchez asked guests to stand up if they or anyone in their families had been touched by breast cancer. There were people standing at virtually every table. Now we need to get the word out.” “If the outpouring of generosity inspired by George is any indication, we’re going to make his vision a reality.” Written By Jordan Rosenfeld NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 gmhtoday.com