Alumni Stories

Feb 25

A Life of Gratitude

February 25, 2019 | 12:16 pm

Dick Oths’  emotional account of his time growing up in the Bronx brought back cherished memories of his adolescence. The days of camaraderie, friendship and youthful discoveries where all centered on his time as a student at Cardinal Hayes High School. Although he followed many of his neighborhood friends to Hayes, it was ultimately a strong maternal influence that solidified his decision. As the only child of a school teacher, his mother believed that discipline was the cornerstone of a proper education. “My mother taught in the New York City Public Schools and insisted that I go to Catholic School. She was a firm believer that you need to have discipline in the classroom in order to learn. Hayes was the perfect place that reinforced those values.”

Oths spent his freshman year at the Castle Hill Annex taught by the Irish Christian Brothers. He found his first year quite an adjustment, but by the time he was a junior he began to embrace the Hayes culture. Under the guidance and support of faculty, he developed an affinity for the sciences. “It was a wonderful learning experience. Hayes was an exciting place. I found my niche in the sciences especially in biology and chemistry. The wonderful teachers like Brother Leroy saw that I had a knack for the field and encouraged me. I also liked the idea of pharmacy and helping people.”

After graduation in 1951, he enlisted in the Merchant Marines Academy at Fort Schuyler for a year. He then applied to Fordham University’s Pharmacy School and graduated in June of 1956. Soon after he married his wife Eleanor and joined the Air Force. Oths was assigned to Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois as Chief Pharmacy Officer. “We stayed there for three years until my commitment was up. We came back to the New York area in the 1960s and I started working as a sales representative for ER Squibb and eventually became the division manager.”

At the encouragement of a dear friend and former college classmate from pharmacy school, he started working at Mount Sinai Hospital where he worked for eight and half years. While working at the hospital, he received his MBA from Baruch College in hospital management. Oths’ career led him to different parts of the country including Cincinnati, Ohio where he worked for several years at Bethesda Hospital Multiservice. In 1988, he moved to Mendham, New Jersey to start a high powered position as a hospital executive. “I helped to start Atlantic Health System which includes Morristown Medical Center. I was their CEO for nearly five years. I retired in July of 2000. I was fortunate enough to continue consulting for Atlantic Health System until 2015.”

As he reflects on his prolific career, Oths credits his accomplishments to the education that he received at Cardinal Hayes. “There was no question that Hayes was instrumental in steering me into pharmacy. I recognize what Hayes is trying to do and what they have been doing in changing the lives of the young men by breaking the cycle of poverty through education.” In gratitude, Oths established a Charitable Remainder Unit Trust (CRUT) to ensure that the Hayes legacy continues. “I have not been really involved with Fordham University. I‘ve given the monies, the support, and strength to Cardinal Hayes. Particularly when I found out the Archdiocese reduced their contributions to Hayes in the past few years.”

One moment of pride for Oths was at the 75th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee in October of 2016. He sat at a table with two Hayes alumni and their families. “I can’t tell you how impressive it was sitting next to these two successful Hayes alumni. I was very proud to see what both these amazing young men achieved in their careers. It was one of the most powerful things that I’ve ever seen in terms of where my money has gone. Everything that Cardinal Hayes stands for is based on not only changing this generation but changing multiple generations to come. That is why I believe that every Hayesman should do whatever they can to show financial support to Cardinal Hayes.”