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Friends, family and colleagues are mourning the loss of former ALSAC CEO Richard C. Shadyac Sr., who served from 1992 to 2005. He died September 16, 2009 after battling a long-term illness.
Shadyac left an indelible mark on ALSAC during his tenure as CEO, helping to shepherd the fundraising organization through the death of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas and presiding over a four-fold increase in fundraising to support the growing needs of St. Jude.
David L. McKee, ALSAC’s chief operating officer, served with Shadyac throughout his tenure and called him “a great leader who helped propel ALSAC and St. Jude to unprecedented heights.”
“Mr. Shadyac always said that being CEO of ALSAC wasn’t a job. It was a love affair,” McKee said. “We will always remember his devotion, his commitment and his love for the children of St. Jude. He motivated his staff to achieve their best through his own dedication, and he invested his all into raising the funds that St. Jude needed to continue its lifesaving work.”
Shadyac, a former attorney, joined the ALSAC/St. Jude Boards of Directors and Governors in 1963 and acted as general counsel for ALSAC. He served as chairman of the ALSAC Board of Directors in the 1960s and 1970s and as the chairman of the St. Jude Board of Governors in the 1980s. In 1992, he was appointed CEO of ALSAC following the retirement of Baddia J. Rashid. He retired in 2005, but continued to serve as a member of the Board.
Camille Sarrouf Jr., chairman of the ALSAC Board of Directors, said the Board has been forever shaped by his leadership and indebted to his service. “The Board of Directors feels a great loss today. We have lost one of the legends of our organization and arguably the most tireless advocate of our cause since Danny Thomas and Mike Tamer, the first CEO of ALSAC, launched this remarkable institution.”
Joseph G. Shaker, who served as chairman of the ALSAC Board of Directors during Shadyac’s tenure as CEO, offered praise by comparing Shadyac to St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, saying “When you say Danny Thomas, the next words you say are Dick Shadyac. You can’t get any closer to living the legend of Danny Thomas than through Dick Shadyac. The entire St. Jude family is going to miss him greatly.”
Shadyac was a close friend and confidant of founder Danny Thomas, and he played a critical role in ensuring the stability of ALSAC and St. Jude after Danny’s death, which occurred shortly before he became CEO. The loss of the organization’s most visible fundraiser and champion meant Shadyac had to find a new voice to tell the St. Jude story. Shadyac found his answer in the children and families of St. Jude, and their stories have helped spread the mission of the hospital to donors and supporters across the country ever since.
Shadyac played a major role in the growth of St. Jude during his 13 years as CEO and made dramatic changes that built on the legacies of previous ALSAC leaders. He created Gift Planning and Donor Services departments, and he reorganized the mail and television programs and embraced the radiothon program, Country Cares for St. Jude Kids, which has become a key fundraiser for the organization.
These decisions enabled ALSAC to fund a $1 billion expansion of hospital services and infrastructure. Dr. William E. Evans, director and CEO of St. Jude, said Shadyac always did what it took to support the mission of St. Jude.
“As a Board member and then as ALSAC CEO, Dick Shadyac was always there for us, doing whatever was necessary to ensure we had the resources to provide unsurpassed patient care and world-class research for children with catastrophic diseases. He never lost his drive or his focus--it was always on the children.”
During his tenure as CEO, public support for St. Jude increased from around $100 million a year in 1992 to more than $400 million in 2005. By the time he retired, ALSAC had become the third largest health-care charity in the U.S. Today, it is the second largest, according to the Philanthropy 400, an annual survey conducted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Shadyac was known as a father figure to the patients and families of St. Jude, and upon his retirement in 2005, he spoke of his legacy and the patients who were always in his heart, saying “I hope that people think I did a good job. I hope that they feel that I gave it my best. And I want them to remember how much I love the children.”
Marlo Thomas, national outreach director of St. Jude and daughter of founder Danny Thomas, called Shadyac one of the great leaders in the organization’s history. “Dick Shadyac was a tireless champion of our mission and every child and their parents who walked through the doors of St. Jude. We are not just losing a great man, we are losing a patriarch of our St Jude family who played a critical role in the history of St. Jude and ALSAC. He is with my dear father now. I hope we make them proud as we follow the path they have set for us.”
Shadyac can be honored through memorials made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.