“Shadyside has been our family’s hospital for generations,” says George W. Childs, who made the gift with his sister, Louise Kay Childs Woodside, and brother, John B. Childs, Jr. They are the children of Mrs. Bissell and the stepchildren of Mr. Bissell.
“Whenever visiting at the hospital or on our way to an appointment, Bill and I would often walk past the wall with the memorial plaques on it between Posner Tower and the Shadyside Medical Building,” George says. “He enjoyed seeing the names he recognized, as do I. It reminded me, again, of how much our family and friends have cared about this hospital — and what excellent care my mother and stepfather both received here, especially in their later years.”
Kay Murtland Ebbert, the daughter of Lowrie Childs Wurts Ebbert and George Singer Ebbert, Jr., was born in Shadyside Hospital in 1942. After attending the Ellis School and graduating in 1960 from Garrison Forest School outside Baltimore, Maryland, she attended Briarcliff Manor Junior College. In 1962, she married John Burgwin Childs, Sr., of Pittsburgh, at Calvary Episcopal Church, where she was a sixth-generation member. The couple moved to Connecticut, where he taught at Salisbury School.
In 1974, Mr. Childs died, leaving his young widow with three children: John Burgwin Childs, Jr. (Jay), George, and Louise Kay. Kay brought her family back home to Pittsburgh and soon took a job as administrative assistant to the Head of School at Shady Side Academy Junior School, a position she held for 28 years, serving five different heads.
“All of the parents and students there knew that she ran the place,” laughs Louise Kay. “She understood the culture. She provided a stabilizing presence throughout the multiyear transition from all-boys to co-education. She had trained as a secretary at Briarcliff, aspiring to be a corporate secretary for the CEO of a major company. She easily could have done that when she returned to Pittsburgh,” Louise Kay says, “but she wanted a job that was going to jibe with our school schedules.”
Kay was devoted to her children, seven grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews, as well as to her greatnieces and great-nephews. After retirement, she reveled in her role as grandmother, welcoming her grandchildren into her kitchen for a snack and a chat after school.
She kept in touch with Shadyside Hospital through her father, George Ebbert, who served as a trustee of the hospital and as president of the Shadyside Hospital Foundation from 1983 to 1987. “He was always pleased that the Foundation was able to sponsor advances in fiber optics to help minimize invasive surgeries,” says George. Especially interested in the training of excellent nurses, Mr. Ebbert made significant gifts for nursing scholarships.