Meet Sun Health Foundation Legacy Leaders Dutch and Dolores Svoboda
Ninety-year-old Dutch Svoboda and Dolores, 88, his wife of 68 years, have always been “get-up-and-go” people. Not long ago, you’d likely find them roller skating or riding bikes through the streets of Sun City, or dancing 10 hours straight at various festivals.
Although age and health issues have slowed them down a bit, their commitment to each other and the community remains strong. They both grew up during the Depression on neighboring farms in the small town of Walford, in east-central Iowa. “We came up the hard way,” Dutch says, recounting the endless chores it took to scratch out a living on the farm. Dolores remembers feeling real hunger. “Sometimes suppers were mighty skimpy,” she says.
They also remember the warm friendships their families shared and how they managed to have fun in the midst of hard times. Their faces shine when they talk about the barn dances their families attended. The dance floor is where the sparks first ignited between Dutch and Dolores. It began innocently enough. When they were 8 and 7, the two often danced together.
“I always made it a point to catch him at school dances because he was a good dancer,” Dolores says.
They began dating in high school. Then came World War II and Dutch was drafted into the Navy. He was assigned to the USS Uhlmann, a destroyer that patrolled the South Pacific.
While the war was on, Dolores attended the University of Iowa to become a teacher. She kept in close touch with Dutch, writing him nearly every day.
They married after the war. Dolores’ first teaching job was in a one-room school house. She taught for 27 years, mostly kindergarten. After the war, Dutch went to work in a friend’s dry-cleaning business. Their son Dean was born in 1953.
Ten years forward, Dutch launched his own dry-cleaning plant, Duchess Dry Cleaners, and built it into a successful enterprise. Dolores worked at the plant after school and on weekends. When he was older, Dean also worked there.
Business success allowed Dutch and Dolores to retire early. They moved to Sun City in 1972 and bought a house they still call home. “Retirement” was a misnomer for them. They immersed themselves in the community’s smorgasbord of activities. Their “to-do” list included helping neighbors in need and supporting Sun Health, which they have faithfully given to over the years. Dutch and Dolores are Sun Health Foundation Legacy Leaders, which means they provided a gift from their estate to the Foundation.
“We got involved, because we knew how important Sun Health was to the community, and that they have helped so many people over the years,” Dutch says. “They helped this community grow and prosper.”
Dutch and Dolores still take a keen interest in life. They are very close to their son, two granddaughters and their families which include four great-grandchildren. They also enjoy short getaways to Laughlin, Nevada, going to church and visiting friends.
“We’re happy as clams,” Dolores says.
“Dutch’s and Dolores’ generosity has been incredible,” says Pamela Gralton Kohnen, Sun Health Foundation senior development director. “With their help, Sun Health has been able to ensure that we have superior health care in the West Valley.”
To watch the Sun Health Foundation Donor Stories video about Dutch and Dolores, go to SunHealth.org/live-well-june.
For more information about supporting Sun Health Foundation, visit SunHealthFoundation.org or call 623-832-5330.