Eugene”Gene”Staples, the first person hired for West Virginia University Hospitals, passed away at the age of 80 in North Carolina, Oct. 21.
Staples arrived in Morgantown early in 1960 to become the hospital’s chief administrative director, a position he held until 1982.
When he arrived, the hospital had just been completed, and it was his job to equip, staff and have it ready for the first class of third year medical students in September.
“Starting a new hospital was a fascinating experience,”Staples said, quoted in”Generation of Growth,”a history of the School of Medicine.
“I would have done it again but would have insisted on more time to complete the tasks.”
When Staples left in 1982, the hospital was the area’s third largest employer with 1,800 employees, behind WVU and Consolidation Coal Company. Total patient visits, including clinics and emergency services, had climbed to nearly 175,000 per year.
“Gene played a vital role in establishing WVU Hospitals,”said Robert M. D’Alessandri, M.D., vice president for health sciences at WVU .”He laidthe foundation that set us on our way to becoming one of the premier hospitals in the region.”
Born in Walker, Minn., Staples grew up in St. Paul. Heserved in the Navy from 1944 to 1946, then received a bachelor’s degree and master’s in hospital administration from the University of Minnesota.
He began his career as assistant to the director at the University of Minnesota Hospitals. In addition to his administrative duties at WVU , he also served as associate professor in the departments of medicine and psychiatry.
In 1982, he moved to the University of Kansas Hospital, serving as Vice Chancellor of Hospital Administration until his retirement in 1990.
Staples won several awards, including the President’s Distinguished Service Award from WVU and the Distinguished West Virginian Award.