Conversation with Roy Stroeher & Betty Olfers

Brother and sister, Roy Stroeher and Betty (Stroeher) Olfers are descendants of early Fredericksburg settlers. Just like their parents, grandparents and great grandparents before them, Roy and Betty always lived and worked in Fredericksburg. Stroeher & Sons and Stroeher and Olfers, is the local family business. It was started by their father, Edgar Stroeher in 1928. Today the business includes the family’s 5th generation: Edward Stroeher, and Charles and Steve Olfers.

You are 4th generation Fredericksburg residents. What is your historical experience with Hill Country Memorial?

Betty: Our support of Hill Country Memorial extends back to the time when we still had two hospitals in town - Dr. Perry‘s and Dr. Feller‘s. They were trusted physicians in the community who had the foresight to join forces and form one hospital. We listened to them when they said this is the best way to go with Medicare coming. They presented their hospital plan and said it was going to be our hospital - and that has always been important to us.

Roy: I came on as a board member a few years after Hill Country Memorial opened. I remained a board member for about 21 years and was president for two years. We always had a good board. We had members from everywhere in the county. Jerry Durr was our first CEO. He was a privilege to work with and a big asset to the hospital. He was always a step ahead of what was coming.

I remember when he asked the board to consider bringing a specialist to Fredericksburg and the hospital. It was a big move and it turned out to be the right decision. Initially, many of the board voted for it, but some voted against. Finally, we reached an agreement and Dr. Swanzy became the first of many specialists in town. Later Jerry Durr decided the hospital needed emergency services. After the Emergency Department was well established, Dr. Andreassian was recruited and we had our first surgeon on board. The idea for a hospital foundation began with Jerry Durr and we were fortunate to have Don Holden on the board to make that happen. I enjoyed my time as a board member during those years.

In your opinion what is the most important work that the hospital does in our community?

Roy: We have many new residents moving into this community. The people who come into our store - especially those who are retired - tell us they came to Fredericksburg because of the reputation of the hospital and the doctors here.

Betty: When you get to be the age that Roy and I are now, it is so important to get good medical care close to home. It is not feasible for us to be driving long distances in heavy traffic to get to a doctor or a hospital. We are so fortunate to have the care we need close to home. People tell us all the time that the nurses and doctors are so nice here. I always say, if you are not on a first name basis when you get to the hospital, you will be when you leave.

How do you describe Hill Country Memorial to others?

Roy: My wife had Multiple Sclerosis for 34 years. Dr. Perry suspected that was her diagnosis so he sent us to the Mayo Clinic. Over the years, she spent a lot of time in various hospitals and I stayed with her. She was in the MS hospital at Texas Medical Center in Houston for six weeks. MD Anderson is located on campus so I visited a patient from Fredericksburg. I remember his doctor saying, “I don‘t know why you all are sending patients here when you’ve got such good doctors in Fredericksburg.”

Betty: The people who settled in Fredericksburg made good sound decisions about the future growth of the town and the hospital and we continue to see that today as new people move here. But back in the mid-1960s when the fundraising committee for Hill Country Memorial was put together, key people were selected to travel in the small communities throughout Gillespie County to enlist their support. It proved to be a smart decision as 93% of Gillespie residents backed the hospital with financial support. The day Hill Country Memorial opened its doors it had matched its federal grant and was debt free. I am very proud of our hospital and grateful for the fine leadership we have today. I feel confident that it will continue to get better and better for generations to come.

Is there a donor experience that has been personally rewarding to you?

Roy: Yes. It was in 2013 when we donated an off-road all terrain vehicle, the Kawasaki Mule for the HCMH Foundation Gala. That year the Foundation was raising money for a new CT scanner. The mule went over well. It was a popular item and drew a lot of interest.

Betty: It was such a pleasure for us to see people at the Gala doing so much active bidding on the Kawasaki. At the 2015 hospital Gala, I was real excited about the new MRI Inside campaign. I felt it would make a big difference for the patients and bring us improved MRI technology. The campaign went over so well and the Foundation received a lot of support and contributions from the community. I am looking forward to seeing what the Foundation project will be next year.

What message on giving would you like to pass on to the next generation?

Roy: It doesn’t have to be money. It can be your time that you give. There is a wonderful group of volunteers at Hill Country Memorial who support the hospital in various positions. I’ve seen instances where people volunteer many hours a week and others just a few. You can‘t go wrong by supporting the hospital.

Betty: We have such a fine hospital that I believe the younger people in our community will support it well into the future. People are coming from quite a distance to Hill Country Memorial because they‘ve heard about the quality of care you get from our fine doctors and nurses. Our parents were involved in many community and civic activities and they often discussed the activities around the dinner table. That is how Roy and I were raised. Our children continue the family tradition of being engaged and giving back to the community.