Dr. Alan Stewart to Receive N. Philip Shelton Humanitarian Award

On Sunday, November 1, the Dr. N. Philip Shelton Humanitarian Award will be presented to this year’s recipient. Although the ceremony will look different with most of the attendees viewing the presentation virtually, the significance of the award has not been lost. Shelton Humanitarian Award nominees must be Knox County residents who have demonstrated extraordinary efforts in working to improve the general well-being and happiness of others; worked consistently to meet the physical, social, economic and/or educational needs of individuals in our community; and exemplified the spirit of Dr. N. Philip Shelton by actions and deeds.

When reading the qualifications to receive this award, it is no surprise to anyone that this year’s winner is Dr. Alan Stewart. Not only has he led this community through the COVID pandemic these past months with his extensive knowledge and leadership, but his numerous years as a trusted Internal Medicine physician illustrate his compassion and skill in caring for others.

Born on September 17, 1947, Dr. Stewart and his older brother grew up on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio with their parents. He grew up with the generation of Baby Boomers in a time where he and the kids from his neighborhood would leave on their bikes in the morning and not come back until it was time for dinner. He played on a little league team and participated in the Boy Scouts from ages eight to 15, which is where he found his love for camping and hiking.

He graduated from Fairview High School in Ohio in 1965. He then went on to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Wittenberg University in 1969 and then his Medical Degree in 1973 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He also completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis.

During his academic career, he met his wife, Pamela. “On our first date there was a horrible smell in my car and I didn’t know where it was coming from,” said Dr. Stewart. “Even though it was winter at the time, she rolled down the window and hung her head out the whole way. Later I found out that I had some rotten worms in the back of the car that I had used for fishing. Rather than apologize, I just told her it was an early test of loyalty!” The couple recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past August.

Together, the couple have six children, (Elisabeth, Christopher, Melissa, Jonathan, Rebekah and Zachary) and seven grandchildren. All of Dr. Stewart’s children attended the same college as their father, Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. The children and their families reside in New York City, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Colorado.

Dr. Stewart began his medical career and training at Good Samaritan in 1976. During his first eight years as a physician, he worked alongside Drs. Combs, Hippensteel and Feltt in their Internal Medicine practice. “Alan has a tremendous work ethic,” said Dr. Hippensteel. “Along with that, he has a great sense of humor and is dependable as a Bulova watch. The two of us had the majority of internal medicine patients in the hospital for years working long hours and completing burdensome paperwork. He never complains and is loyal to his patients. He is not a bad canoe paddler either that I have seen when we have been camping at Quetico Provincial Park. I am proud to call him my friend.”

After sharing a practice with his fellow physicians, he then chose to open up his own office and later worked with patients in long-term care. He was the Director of Inpatient Rehabilitation at Good Samaritan from 2014 to 2018. From 2015 to 2018 he was also the physician at the newly formed employee health clinic at Vincennes University and has been the Knox County Health Officer since 2019.

Throughout his life as a physician, Dr. Stewart has always made time to volunteer and help others in need. “I enjoy volunteering because I have the opportunity to work with and get to know many great people in the community who have similar ideas and energies,” he said. “I get a lot of personal satisfaction from the work, the people in the community appreciate it and it makes the community a better place.”

Dr. Stewart describes his best experience was when he was on the Vincennes Community School Corporation Board. While on the board, he and his peers accomplished several tasks that helped to reorganize the corporation; such as health care and retirement funding. He also worked to improve the school cafeteria program and community work to build the new middle school. He was also a member of Keep Vincennes Rolling, a bicycle advocacy group.

His recent venture working at the Knox County Health Department has given him personal and professional satisfaction during the COVID pandemic. “This has been challenging and gratifying in helping make health care decisions for the community,” said Dr. Stewart. He has also participated as an alumnus medical professional and member of the Board of Directors for the COVID Response Team at his alma mater in Springfield, Ohio.

Rob McLin, President and CEO of Good Samaritan, has been with Good Samaritan for 28 years and has had the distinct privilege of working with Dr. Alan Stewart from the time he was an independent internist working out of his office located where the Same Day Surgery Center currently stands. “Since that time, I have worked with Dr. Stewart as the hospital’s Medical Education Director and as the Inpatient Rehab Medical Director,” said McLin. “I have now had the privilege of working with Dr. Stewart through a pandemic as our County Health Officer. What an honor it has been for me to work with, and learn from, someone as intelligent, compassionate, considerate and dedicated to the health and welfare of every patient in the region we serve. I can think of no one more deserving of the Shelton Award. Alan’s passion for our county and every citizen is a testament to his integrity and the ultimate legacy he has laid in Knox County. I am extremely proud of him and honored to call him my friend.”

Throughout his years as a physician and volunteer in the community, Dr. Stewart has had the opportunity to learn so much about himself and his community. “When I closed my practice in 2006 and was calling other physicians to care for my patients, I often said, ‘I guarantee every one of my patients’. My patients always appreciated the advice that I gave them and I truly enjoyed seeing them in the office. Through the volunteer work that I have done, I feel that working with numerous organizations, we can truly accomplish things and make this a better community for everyone.”

“A challenge of volunteering is coming across individuals who think the work you do is not beneficial or necessary,” continued Dr. Stewart. “However, I have always pointed out that volunteering and helping others makes my work satisfying and feels worthwhile.”

Bernie Schmitt, chair of the annual Shelton Humanitarian Award and board member for the Vincennes Kiwanis Club, praised Dr. Stewart for his work and volunteerism throughout his life. “We are pleased to honor Dr. Stewart as the 2020 recipient of the N. Phillip Shelton Humanitarian Award,” he said. “Dr. Stewart’s steadfast vigilance and leadership during these trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic has been extraordinary. He has worked diligently to keep the residents of Vincennes and Knox County safe by providing the much-needed guidance and expert information citizens need to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. He’s a good guy to have around and we are proud to honor him this year.”

When Dr. Stewart learned that he would be this year’s recipient of the Shelton Award, he was surprised and humbled. “Nothing with regard to work that is being done is done as an individual,” he said. “There is always teamwork and many individuals working hard to accomplish goals. For that reason, I feel that the recognition for something that is worthwhile would be best given to all who have participated.”

Ever humble and willing to help anyone in need, Dr. Stewart deserves any and all recognition for his work. He will be presented with the Shelton Award on Sunday, November 1, at 2 p.m. in Eva Hill Auditorium at Good Samaritan’s Health Pavilion. The public is invited to watch the ceremony virtually by attending the Zoom meeting. Instructions to login into Zoom can be found online by visiting www.gshvin.org/shelton-award.

A family physician in Vincennes, Dr. Shelton lived a life of dedication to his community and serving others. In recognition of his service, the Dr. N. Philip Shelton Humanitarian Award was established in 1998. The purpose of the award is to recognize and promote humanitarian achievement in our community.

Some of the past winners include: Dr. William Thompson, Kevin Rowland, Horace Foncannon, Scott Shipman, Mark Hill, Siegfried E. Schleicher, Jimmie Morrison, Nancy Carie, Jennifer Jones, Velma Hendrix, John Lyons and Max Renshaw.

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