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Work Begins on Marmion Cancer Center

Another step in the process of bringing radiation oncology services to Southwest Texas was taken Tuesday morning when ground was officially broken for the Kate Marmion Regional Cancer Medical Center.

Work Begins on Marmion Cancer Center

Turning soil

Another step in the process of bringing radiation oncology services to Southwest Texas was taken Tuesday morning when ground was officially broken for the Kate Marmion Regional Cancer Medical Center.

“This is a hallelujah day, a celebration,” said Dr. John Shudde, co-chairman of the Saving Lives Close to Home Capital Campaign Committee that exceeded the fundraising goal for the center that will be located adjacent to Uvalde Memorial Hospital.

“This committee raised $5.2 million. This surpassed the $5-million goal,” said master of ceremonies Bill Kessler, Uvalde Hospital Authority board president.

Shudde characterized the project as a love story. He said it is not a Hollywood love story, but a story of the love that caring area residents have for people in need. “The benefactor gets blessed as well as the giver. And it feels good.”

He praised the generosity of lead project donors and capital campaign honorary chairmen former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe and his daughter, Janey Marmion. The center is named for Briscoe’s granddaughter, Janey and Jim Marmion’s daughter.

Dr. John Shudde
Dr. John Shudde

“You’d never know and see this happen if it hadn’t been for the blessing of Gov. Briscoe,” said Shudde.

He also praised Uvalde Memorial Hospital Development Coordinator Sheri Rutledge for her work on the project. “This is the ramrod of this outfit.”

Kessler credited Uvalde businessman Roger Berry for originating the effort to build the center and ease the travel burden on area cancer sufferers, who currently have to travel to San Antonio for radiation oncology services. Berry began work on the project after family members required treatment and had to go to San Antonio to get it.

Uvalde Memorial Hospital Administrator Jim Buckner said he also wanted to personally thank Berry for his work and persistence in making the project a reality. “I’m just glad his boot wasn’t any sharper,” he laughed.

Buckner said with Berry, Shudde was also instrumental in the effort to raise funds for the project. “I just don’t think it would have happened without these two fine gentlemen.”

Buckner recognized Uvalde Memorial Hospital employees and UMH Auxiliary members present for the ceremony, noting that both groups supported the project. He also recognized capital campaign committee members, the firm of O’Connell Robertson Associates and architects Rick Burnight and Jason Puchot, and contractor D. Wilson Construction Co. President Bill Wilson.

Buckner explained that cancer treatment other than radiation therapy has been available in Uvalde for almost 20 years, thanks to Cancer Care Centers of South Texas and doctors including Dr. Manuel Santiago and Dr. Sridham Beeram. Those services will be incorporated into the new facility and will increase, going from six to 10 patient stations.

Kessler introduced Dr. David Jones, whose Southwest Oncology Development Associates group will staff the radiation oncology office in the center. “He has vast experience and resources,” he said of Jones and the group, which has offices in Kerrville, San Marcos, Marble Falls, Bastrop and New Braunfels.

Jones said sometimes it is hard to  explain the importance of providing cancer treatment locally.
“It matters. Sometimes it’s hard to explain how much it matters,” Jones said. He shared the story of his mother’s radiation treatment when she battled breast cancer. She and Jones’ father stayed with Jones and his wife in Kerrville, and Jones told the assembled group how important it was that she 
could be minutes away from the treatment she needed.

The new center will provide area residents the same treatment advantage, he said.
“We’re going to do something special here,” Jones said. “The people that are in the least position … won’t have to leave family and friends and church and work. They’re going to be able to do it right here close to home.”

Recognizing his associates Alex  Strenge, Stephen Scott, Brent Bates and Lance Dobbins, Jones said, “We’re going to make a center that you guys can be proud of.”
Jones said the fundraising in  excess of what was needed is seen as a significant achievement by the state’s medical community.

“Be proud of yourselves. What  you’ve accomplished has raised eyebrows,” Jones said.

Buckner also announced new doctors will be coming to the hospital thanks to the project.

“This is a two-part project in some  respects,” he said, referring to the fact that a medical office building is included in the project. “We’re standing at almost 80 percent occupied before it goes into place,” Buckner said. He announced the addition to the hospital staff of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jack Connely, cardiologist Dr. Khawaja Anwar and pediatrician Dr. Roy Guerrero.


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Project team

Honorary Chairs

The Honorable Dolph Briscoe, Jr.


Janey Briscoe Marmion


Roger Berry
John L. Shudde, MD

Committee Members

Lewis E. Bracy, Jr.


Vicente Gonzales, III

Bill Kessler

Carol Kothmann

Rene Nolasco

Joe Parker

Alexis L. Petty

Janet White

UMH Advisors

Jim Buckner,Administrator
Sheri Rutledge, Development Coordinator
Rose Puente, Cost Accountant