2017-12-14 / Around Town

Celebrating 50 Years of Philanthropy


Ruth and Edward “Ned” Corcoran have spearheaded fundraising campaigns for Newport Hospital and other organizations on Aquidneck Island for five decades. They say they could never have done it without the generosity of the entire community. Ruth and Edward “Ned” Corcoran have spearheaded fundraising campaigns for Newport Hospital and other organizations on Aquidneck Island for five decades. They say they could never have done it without the generosity of the entire community. It was 1967 and Lyndon B. Johnson occupied the Oval Office. Gas was 33 cents a gallon and Carl Yastrzemski was patrolling left field at Fenway Park during the Red Sox’s “Impossible Dream” season.

That same year, Ruth and Edward “Ned” Corcoran became involved with Newport Hospital, chairing the capital campaign to fund what would be the tallest building on Aquidneck Island. The Turner Building is located at the center of the island, and hospital administrators say it was also central to making their facility into a first-class medical institution.

To fund the project, Newport Hospital needed to raise more than $1 million, a goal the Corcorans weren’t sure they would be able to reach. “It was a lot of money in those days,” Ned recalls, “but with the community solidly behind us we ended up raising over $2 million.”

While the Corcorans spearheaded the 1967 campaign, Ned says its success hinged on local residents who contributed funding. The opportunity was also Ned’s first chance to work with the late John A. “Archie” van Beuren, a philanthropist in his own right.

“Archie was an amazing man,” Ned said. “He was so positive about the hospital and the campaign [and] recognized the Turner Building as a resource our community needed.”

Affectionately known as “The Tower,” the Turner Building now houses Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Center, the Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center, the Lifespan Cancer Institute at Newport Hospital, and other patient care units. It was Ned and Ruth’s first successful fundraising effort and it would not be their last.

Thirty years later, in 1997, the Corcorans were at it again, volunteering to chair the hospital’s Vision 2001 campaign. With a goal of raising $16 million, the campaign would effectively transform the Newport facility into a modern community hospital at a time when medicine was experiencing a shift to enhanced diagnostic capabilities and a move toward more outpatient services.

“Like everything she’s done in support of the hospital, my wife put her heart and soul into the Vision 2001 campaign,” Ned said. “We knew the economy was difficult in the late ‘90s, so when there were concerns about being able to raise the funds, it only inspired us more and we took it as a challenge to meet our goal.”

“My husband and I were both brought up to give back; it’s a big part of who we are,” Ruth said. “And once you’re hooked on something like this, you stay involved, especially when it’s so critically important to your community.”

During the Corcorans’ five decades of fundraising for Aquidneck Island’s only hospital, which was founded in 1873, the couple’s influence can be found on every floor and care unit.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that Ruth and Ned have been instrumental in transforming Newport Hospital and propelling us into the 21st century,” said hospital president Crista F. Durand. “The Corcorans are part of a small, select group of philanthropists who are the backbone of Newport Hospital.”

Fundraising for the hospital is one example of the Corcorans’ lifetime of giving in the community.

One of The Boys Club's original incorporators, in the 1950s, Ned was instrumental as the board president in the merger in 1980 that formed the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County. Joe Pratt, executive director and CEO of the Newport chapter, pointed to the Corcorans’ involvement in countless organizations and community efforts to improve the lives of Aquidneck Island families.

“Ned and Ruth Corcoran are true treasures of the community,” Pratt wrote in an email to Newport This Week on Dec. 13. “Their work at the Newport Boys and Girls Club is a perfect example of the vision, passion and dedication they displayed that to this day is still delivering value to members of our community.”

The Corcorans’ connection to the community, as well as to Newport Hospital, runs deep. As longtime volunteers, they delivered Meals on Wheels for years, and dedicated their time to many other philanthropic causes. Ned was born at Newport Hospital, along with his four siblings, and the Corcorans’ seven children and grandchildren opened their eyes for the first time at the hospital as well.

“We feel a great sense of obligation to the community and the hospital,” Ned said.

With a burgeoning summer population and more seasonal festivals and events, Ned sees the hospital’s role becoming even greater in the future. In 2017 alone, Newport Hospital’s emergency department has seen an average of 100 people each day, a 35 percent increase over just two years ago, according to the hospital press release.

“With larger numbers of people in Newport, it is inevitable that more people will need to rely on the hospital for care,” Ned said. “And for those who live here, there is little question that if they haven’t already benefited from the hospital, they will at some point during their lifetime.”

The greater Aquidneck Island community gave Ned and Ruth Corcoran a lifetime of joy, and the Corcorans, in turn, have spent that lifetime returning the favor.

“My husband and I were both brought up to give back; it’s a big part of who we are,” Ruth said. “And once you’re hooked on something like this, you stay involved, especially when it’s so critically important to your community.”

NTW Staff

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