Hospice of the Valley, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in September, originated serendipitously—or in theological terms, providentially.

Blanche Hopkins Wenge, the Rev. Q. Gerald Roseberry and Mary-Audrey Mellor— founders of Hospice of the Valley—reunited Sept. 7 at the agency’s 40th Anniversary/Employee Recognition celebration at the Arizona Biltmore Resort (photo by Delbert Vega).

The Rev. Q. Gerald Roseberry had been thinking about ways to help people on their journey through “the Valley of the shadow of death.”

In mid-1976, Roseberry picked up a copy of “Reader’s Digest” and his eye fell on an article about the work of Hospice, Inc., of New Haven, Conn.—the first hospice in the United States.

“It was an ‘Ah-ha!’ moment!” he recalled.

The “Valley of the Sun Hospice Association” was formed on Sept. 9, 1977. With a $15,000 grant from the Flinn Foundation, the not-for-profit agency opened an office in rent-free space at a county health department storefront.

In 1983 Medicare made hospice a Medicare benefit, providing a secure revenue stream for patient care. That year Joan Lowell joined HOV as executive director, offering stable leadership for the next decade. The core cadre of first nurses—Mary Audrey Mellor, Blanche Hopkins, Jean Marie (Huls) Stockton and Nicky Rachin—solidified and trained the troops.

By the end of 1983, Roseberry felt comfortable leaving HOV in good hands to move on to other causes near and dear to his heart. “Once an activist, always an activist,” said Roseberry, 84, who now lives at Beatitudes Campus.


Hello, North Central neighbor — thank you for visiting!

Sign up to receive our digital issue in your inbox each month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.