r. H.P. Graessle knew the importance of nurses to the Jackson County community.

After 53 years of practicing as a physician and surgeon, Dr. H.P. Graessle still visited the nurses at Schneck Medical Center after his retirement in 1971.

Wednesday, Shadowood Golf Course hosted the 36th annual Dr. “Bud” Charity Golf Tournament, named after Graessle.

The tourney raises monies for nursing scholarships through Schneck.

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“Some of his favorite people in the world were nurses,” George Graessle, Bud’s grandson, said at the tournament. “He always loved nurses. He made sure to always talk to them, even in his retirement years. They were always some of the greatest people in the world to him.

“All you have to do is go to the hospital once, and you will see how important nurses are to Schneck. They do a ton for their patients.”

Warren Forgey, president and CEO of Schneck Medical Center, said that 18 scholarships went out to nurses this year.

Over the tournament’s 36 years, more than half a million dollars have been awarded.

“I think the attendees recognize the importance of nursing,” Forgery said. “I also think that they appreciate Schneck Medical Center being here in Jackson County, providing high-quality health care to all of our patients that we serve. We want to be able to maintain that.”

For 35 of the past 36 tournaments, George Graessle has played in the golf outing with his family.

For the Graessle family, the tournament brings them together once a year.

“I’ve played in every year but one — last year because my kids couldn’t make it up,” Graessle said. “My son, we nicknamed him ‘Bud’ because we didn’t want to run around the house yelling ‘George’ since my father was also named George. He still goes by Bud to this day.”

Nearly 40 teams took to the course Wednesday, with many representing a variety of local businesses.

One of the focuses for the scholarships is to bring Jackson County natives back to the area’s workforce.

“We do it for the scholarships,” Forgey said. “Registered nurses are a crucial part of Schneck Medical Center’s workforce. The first priority is to help the nurses through school. It’s designed for Jackson and the surrounding counties. We want to make sure they have the funds to make it through. If they would like to come back to Schneck, we will welcome them back.”

Vickie Gilbert, director of health information services, has worked at every tournament and is in her 41st year at Schneck.

Gilbert has seen the importance of nurses during her time at Schneck and said it’s a good cause for a crucial profession.

“I’ve been helping since the beginning,” Gilbert said. “I played golf and had a vested interest in helping out the hospital. I want to help try earn money for the scholarship fund. It’s very important to the hospital.”

Gilbert said that Schneck offers a great environment for nurses.

“One of the things I cherish most about the hospital is the culture that we’ve created there,” Gilbert said. “I think that the main reason we have the culture is because so many of our employees are local people. We want to keep those people working at our hospital, and we can do that through scholarships.

“We’re still maintaining, and I think the biggest golf tournament in Seymour. We’re so grateful that the community supports this.”

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Jordan Morey is sports editor at The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at jmorey@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.