Monday, April 5, 2010 2:49 PM

Community loses longtime advocate

Dorothy “Dottie” Rohlfing’s desire to lend her time and heart to people in the Valley spanned over 65 years and continued through her passing in March. Rohlfing’s legacy of giving to Community Medical Centers will be forever remembered, said Rob Saroyan, Community Medical Foundation vice president.

 “Dottie was a pioneer and an inspirational leader that led by example,” Saroyan said. “She was a dedicated volunteer leader and a true warrior for the mission. Her spirit will be a guiding force as we move forward and carry on the vision.”

She served on the Community Medical Foundation board for more than 10 years, was chairperson from 1997 to 1998 and was awarded emeritus status in 2006.

Dottie and her husband, Dr. Walter A. Rolfing, came to Fresno in 1944 from St. Louis. Dr. Rohlfing, a general medicine practitioner and later gerontology specialist, was a voice for the elderly and long-term care. Together, the couple created a legacy that educated physicians and helped many throughout the Community hospital system, the Valley’s largest.

“She [Dottie] and daddy realized that Community was located in the center of Fresno and served many individuals from all walks of life,” said Tracey Neff, the couple’s daughter. “It was easy for my mom to see the importance of Community Medical Centers and she knew it would develop into an outstanding facility.”

When Dr. Rohlfing passed in 1986, Dottie, along with family, friends, colleagues and former patients of her late husband, set up the Walter A. Rohlfing, M.D. Geriatric Lectureship Foundation. The lectureship was a medical symposium covering the unique aspects of care in older Americans.

“Mom saw the lectureship as a way to continue to get my father’s message out,” Neff said. “They were both aware of the lack of services and learning opportunity for those interested in gerontology and what better way than to bring educational opportunities to the Valley?”

Dottie is survived by her four children, Walter A. Rohlfing, Jeffrey W. Rohlfing, Tracey Neff and Gretchen Salvetti, as well as 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

“My mom was committed to every detail of her life – her children, her grandchildren, as well as her large circle of friends,” Neff said.

Upon Dottie’s passing she requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to Terry's House, a home under construction across the street from the entrance to Community Regional Medical Center that will offer families convenient lodging while their loved ones receive critical care.

“She knew that there is enough for families to be concerned about and Terry's House will be an incredible facility supporting Community and patients, families and caregivers,” Neff said.  “She gave back to her community in a manner that few people realized.  Every project was taken on with such positive energy, always encouraging those around her.  She had such a gift to make all those around her feel important and very special.”

Hanford family asks for burn center gifts in father’s name

Father, dancer, farmer, husband Gordon C. Garcia of Hanford passed in February.

Richard Garcia and his family were by his father’s side while he received treatment at the Leon S. Peters Burn Center at Community Regional Medical Center. After his father passed, Richard and his family asked that donations be gifted to the burn center. It was something that his father would have wanted as Gordon gave and collected for many charities throughout his lifetime.

“We just really thought a lot of the people that worked there,” son Richard said. “I was impressed by their professionalism and I know they tried to save everyone that walked through their doors.”

One of Gordon’s many passions was dancing and he and his wife Aldean attended many local celebrations together. After her passing, he continued his passion and started attending senior dances.

“He would dance every dance … he was the first one there and the last one to leave,” Garcia said. “He had quite a little following.”

This story was reported by Rebecca Wass. She can be reached at