Richland's St. Barnabas to honor former Pa. governor Ridge

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania, will receive the 2013 Hance Award next week during St. Barnabas Charities' 113th Founder Day celebration.

A welcoming ceremony for Ridge will kick off the event at 10 a.m. May 2 in St. Barnabas Nursing Home, Richland.

“Just like our founder, he had a mission,” said Valerie Day Wilden, assistant vice president of St. Barnabas Health System.

The Hance Award recalls the late Gouverneur Hance's dedication to service.

Hance, who at one time begged on Pittsburgh streets to help the needy, started St. Barnabas Health System in a four-bed home on Third Avenue, Downtown.

“We look for characteristics that exemplify our founder, who had a mission and left a legacy, and I believe that's something Tom Ridge has done,” Wilden said. “We're impressed with his patriotism.

“Both are quiet Americans who were great heroes,” Wilden said about Hance and Ridge.

Hance, a New Jersey native, came to Pittsburgh in 1897 with a Salvation Army-type group, and opened the St. Barnabas Free Home — for men and boys — in 1900. The current St. Barnabas Nursing Home in Richland opened in June 1919. Hance died at age 82 in 1954. “He was slight in stature but he had a lofty goal,” Wilden said.

Ridge, a Munhall native, grew up in veterans' public housing in Erie.

The U.S. Army then drafted Ridge as a first-year law student for military service in Vietnam. As an infantry staff sergeant, Ridge received the Bronze Star for Valor, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Ridge, 67, a Harvard University graduate, now heads Ridge Global, a Washington, D.C.-based security consulting firm. He and wife Michele have two children.

Ridge will speak and receive his Hance Award at the St. Barnabas Charities' Founders Day dinner slated to open with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. May 2 at the Marriott Pittsburgh North, 100 Cranberry Woods Drive, Cranberry.

“He will be talking about the time when he was governor until he became secretary of homeland security,” Wilden said.

Ridge — twice elected governor of Pennsylvania — left the governor's office after the terrorists' attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to became the first assistant to the president for homeland security. Ridge became the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Jan. 24, 2003.

During his visit, Wilden expects Ridge to also share his perspective on the current threat of terrorism in the United States following the recent bomb attacks in Boston.

David Johnson and Peggy Finnegan of WPXI-TV will emcee the Founder's Day gala dinner. Allegheny County Deputy Sheriff Rick Manning will sing the national anthem. Proceeds will benefit the St. Barnabas Free Care Fund.

A one-week getaway to a condo in Colorado ski country is among $36,000 in goods and services slated for silent auction at the gala.

Tickets to the dinner cost $250 per person.

People also can also meet Ridge during a fundraising luncheon — offering a Neptune salad or pecan encrusted chicken — at noon May 2 in The Washington Place at St. Barnabas Village, 5847 Meridian Road. Tickets are $150.

For information or reservations to the dinner or luncheon, call 724-444-5326.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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