Monsour Medical Center founder recalled for intensity, short temper
Just hours after Jeannette officials met to wrestle with the fate of the decaying Monsour Medical Center, word came that one of the hospital's four founding — and often feuding — brothers had died.
Because Dr. William Monsour had served in no capacity at the hospital for decades, officials said, his death on Monday night at his Jeannette home will have little impact on the future of the condemned facility.
Known in the community as “Dr. Bill,” Monsour, 84, was remembered as a feisty, short-tempered, combative man who fought openly with his three brothers — Roy, Robert and Howard — during protracted court battles in the 1990s to keep the former hospital from being sold.
The sale was blocked, but the hospital never regained its financial footing and closed in 2006 after a series of failed state inspections.
Those who knew him said William Monsour's arguments weren't limited to his siblings.
He once got into a physical altercation with a nephew during a hospital board of directors meeting that became so violent that family members had to step in to stop it.
When Monsour was the facility's CEO, he locked the hospital's chief financial officer out of his office, then sent the man a telegram informing him he could not resign because Monsour had fired him.
Bill Raber, former chairman of the hospital's board of directors, remembers Monsour's intensity.
“Whenever he came to a meeting, you'd know it would be interesting,” he said.
Monsour was a son of the late Michael and Eva Monsour, Syrian immigrants who settled in a Jeannette neighborhood dominated by Syrian and Lebanese families.
Using a horse-drawn cart, Michael Monsour sold household goods door-to-door as the couple raised their sons.
Howard, 92, and Robert Monsour, 96, still live in Westmoreland County, but both are in poor health, family and acquaintances said.
Roy Monsour died in 2002.
“It's an end to an era,” said nephew Robert Monsour, a son of Robert Monsour. “We may have had our differences over the years, but blood is thicker than water.”
Ron Dinsmore, a former city councilman and member of the hospital's board of directors, knew William Monsour because he treated Dinsmore's father.
“I always respected him,” Dinsmore said.
William Monsour didn't join his brothers in practicing medicine until 1960, when he was licensed in Pennsylvania after graduating from medical school in Mexico. He later became CEO and medical director at Monsour, but he was forced out of both positions because of his management style, according to published reports.
Monsour trained as an internist and billed himself as a cardiologist.
In 1980, he was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh for Medicare fraud for padding his bills, according to records. He pleaded guilty to one fraud count and was sentenced to spend 260 hours working as a physician in the Allegheny County Jail and the state prison in Hempfield, records show.
Later, Monsour founded a health insurance company that was sued by the state insurance commissioner, who accused him of diverting $1.3 million in premiums from the company to the Monsour Medical Foundation.
Trouble followed Monsour into his personal life, where he struggled with financial and family issues.
He ran afoul of the IRS and banks in Florida after he purchased a rundown hotel in Sarasota that spawned several lawsuits.
In 2006, a federal judge in Pittsburgh ordered him to pay the IRS $348,000 in back taxes dating to the 1990s.
On Monday night, Jeannette officials talked about finding the $250,000 to $2 million needed to raze the dilapidated Route 30 hospital, often the primary source of friction between the brothers.
Monsour is survived by his wife, attorney Maureen Kroll Monsour; and six children, Jill Constantine of Jeannette; Sophia Monsour of Albany, N.Y.; M. Lisa Houser of Ligonier; Yasmine Monsour of Santa Rosa, Calif.; and William “Max” Monsour and Caroline Monsour, both at home. He also is survived by four grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Michael's Orthodox Church in Greensburg.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at email@example.com.