Lyle Dean Reeve's Story
Some images stay with you for a long time: The image of a five-year-old boy with spinal tuberculosis during the Depression spending seven years of his young life as a patient at National Jewish Health. The image of that young boy posing cheerfully for a picture to show how he had learned to write with his feet because the disease and treatments left him unable to use his hands. The image of his family - parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles - coming to visit him regularly, with the children kept outside the room for fear they would catch the deadly disease.
The images of Lyle Dean Reeve are strong and compelling, especially after you learn that he won his seven-year battle with tuberculosis and went on to live a full, healthy life. He took the skills he learned at National Jewish Health in occupational therapy sessions - watch repair and photography - and built a business in Iowa where he became known for his skills in those areas, as well as a jeweler in general. According to his sister, "Lyle was never a fancy dresser, but he had a heart of gold."
Lyle died recently at the age of 65, but he never forgot the institution that gave him a life - National Jewish Health. Even though his death was sudden and unexpected, he had planned what he wanted to do with his life savings and made a provision in his will for National Jewish Health. His family feels good about his bequest. "National Jewish Health saved his life and gave him another life," says his sister Loretta Prostine. "My parents never had to pay a dime in seven years. They were farmers during the Depression, dealing with crop failures and other problems. They couldn't have paid. National Jewish Health took care of Lyle anyway."
Lyle's bequest to National Jewish Health will help us continue to pursue our mission of improving the health and lives of people suffering from respiratory, allergic and immune system diseases, and he will always be remembered. The plaque his family created at the hospital to honor his gift states very simply, "In loving memory of Lyle Dean Reeve, for tuberculosis research and assistance to tuberculosis patients in need."
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