Kevin Riordan: Hospital volunteer, 88: "I'm a doer . . . I just like to be busy."

Dick Subber, 88, of Deptford, a 26-year volunteer at Kennedy Health System in Washington Twp: "I just feel I have to give something back."
Dick Subber, 88, of Deptford, a 26-year volunteer at Kennedy Health System in Washington Twp: "I just feel I have to give something back." (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 26, 2013

Two weeks after Dick Subber retired from the Clementon post office in 1986, he got to work.

He began volunteering at Kennedy Health System's Washington Township campus, where he has contributed 7,500 hours of service in the last 27 years.

He is one of only two World War II veterans in Kennedy's volunteer corps and is still going strong at 88.

"Dick keeps the files organized and he keeps me organized," says Lisa Fedorick, corporate manager for volunteer services.

Subber can be found in her office between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Thursday "without fail. . . . I could not do this job without him," Fedorick adds.

"When Lisa gives me something to do, I do it," Subber says. "I'm a doer, I guess. I just like to be busy."

During National Volunteer Week, for which we can thank Richard Nixon, a great way to thank all volunteers is to spotlight one who's exemplary - as Kennedy is doing in its next newsletter with a story about Subber.

"Just like in the Army, I don't do anything special," says Subber ("rhymes with rubber"), who's a master of the matter-of-fact. "I do my job the best I can."

In 1951, he moved from North Philly to Deptford with his wife, Jean. They met as teenagers, before he went off to serve with the Army in Europe during World War II.

He was assigned to the Signal Corps; they got married while he was home on leave. The couple have three children, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. In July, they will celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary.

Subber, an active Mason since 1968, "has always been a very, very giving person," Jean, 86, tells me by phone. "And I'm not just saying that because he's standing two feet from me."

A former Kennedy volunteer herself, she notes that she and her husband also have helped out at local Red Cross blood drives. "We've always appreciated what other people do for us," Jean says.

Subber began his volunteer career at Kennedy in food services, preparing sandwiches and other cold items for patients.

He transferred to human resources in 2002 and now oversees the time sheets and other records of about 90 adult volunteers.

Kennedy has upward of 400 adult and student volunteers among its Washington Township, Cherry Hill, and Stratford campuses.

Most work in clerical capacities, although a new "patient-ambassador" corps offers companion services to patients.

And Subber "helps me pull this off," Fedorick says. "One of the highest compliments I can pay him is, he's just a genuinely good person. He's dedicated. And I'm privileged."

Subber is not Kennedy's oldest volunteer - one is 90, another recently retired at 93 - but he has no plans to step down.

"I don't feel like I'm 88," says Subber, who will be 89 in August. "Occasionally, I wake up and realize I am, but I still have plenty of energy, I feel good, and the good Lord lets me wake up every morning.

"I've had a very fortunate life," Subber adds. "I just feel I have to give something back.

"To have something like this [recognition] happen is totally a surprise. Who am I? I'm just another guy that does his job."


Contact Kevin Riordan

at 856-779-3845 or kriordan@phillynews.com,

or follow on Twitter @inqkriordan. Read the Metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at www.philly.com/blinq.

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