For Pennee and Lou Tsoukas, Giving Starts From Within
"I always wanted to go into medicine," states Dr. Lou Tsoukas confidently. "In high school, they asked us to write a paper on our career plans. Most people at that age have no definite idea. My paper was titled "Surgery as a Career." Thus began a journey towards a lifetime in healthcare for this revered Valley Hospital doctor. In 1949 he left Greece and came to the United States to live with an uncle and aunt in Youngstown, Ohio where he graduated from high school. He went to college at Western Reserve University in Cleveland and subsequently the St. Louis University School of Medicine. His internship and training in general and thoracic surgery followed at Philadelphia General Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Lou moved to Bergen County in 1963 and joined the staff at Valley Hospital in 1964. Throughout his 40 years of service to the hospital he served three terms as Chief of Surgery before retiring in 2004.
The commitment to The Valley Hospital has not been limited to Dr. Touskas's professional capacity. Instead, for Lou and wife Pennee, it has been something of a family affair. During his Valley Hospital Foundation Board tenure, Lou participated in many of the capital campaigns, and has continued to remain involved as an honorary Foundation board member. Pennee first became involved with the Auxiliary 30 years ago through the Saddle River branch, before becoming a member of the Auxiliary's Central Board and then President. Over the years, she focused on helping to run fundraisers and revamp the hospital's gift shop and Kurth Cottage Café. She remembers her time with the Auxiliary, a social and fun-loving group fondly: "Women were eager to participate and there was real diversity of activity to attract all interests. The Auxiliary helped to bring attention to fundraising projects at the Hospital which our members supported eagerly."
Personal philanthropy is deeply important to the couple, having long made generous gifts to numerous institutions, including The Valley Hospital, where a previous gift named the Same Day Surgery waiting area. When it came time to consider a gift to The Valley Hospital in Paramus, Lou and Pennee saw it as a chance to continue their longtime commitment. They have made the decision to include the Foundation in their estate plans and contribute now with a gift to name a waiting area in the new hospital. "You need a great hospital in your community; it's worthwhile for the area," they explained. "We all love The Valley Hospital. The progress is there and it’s an excellent institution."