Commissioned Officers Foundation Receives $1.24 million Bequest

Photo of Captain Robert Lathrop and his dog.

Lightning struck...twice!  The Estate of Captain Robert Lathrop sent a second bequest of $620,000 to the PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation, making the total donation $1.24 million.

Captain Robert Lathrop spent much of his adult life traveling around to the most remote and difficult to access areas of Alaska with his wife, “Petey,” providing dental care for Alaska Natives.  Beginning his service in Alaska with the Territorial Department of Health in 1948 in the ship M/V Hygiene, CAPT Lathrop worked variously in Point Hope, Barrow, and Kotzebue where he joined the PHS Commissioned Corps in 1963 and also immediately became a member of the Commissioned Officers Association, soon after becoming a Life Member of COA.  When the PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation was established in 2000, Captain Lathrop became a regular donor.

The Corps brought Captain Lathrop to the lower 48 where he served as the Aberdeen Area Dental Officer and at Indian Health Service headquarters until his retirement from active service in 1975.  Upon retirement, Bob and Petey returned to Kotzebue and from there travelled around the world, eventually settling in Anchorage in 1988.  His beloved Petey pre-deceased him and Captain Lathrop passed away on June 8, 2011 at Marlow Manor Assisted Living in Anchorage.  He was 87 years old.

Shortly after Captain Lathrop’s death, COF received notice from his estate that Bob had included the Foundation in his will.  On May 18, 2012, COF received the first check in the amount of $620,000 from Captain Lathrop’s estate, the largest gift in the Foundation’s twelve year history.  The second check for $620,000 was received in October of 2013.  The Foundation is deeply indebted to and profoundly humbled by Captain Lathrop’s bequest.

The PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation honored Captain Robert Lathrop with posthumous induction into the John Adams Society.  Follow Captain Lathrop's lead and include the Foundation in your estate planning.  Contact Foundation staff for more information.

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The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are fully tax-deductible as charitable donations for income tax purposes. Donations are recognized at the annual Public Health Symposium and in the newsletter Frontline.

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2013 USPHS Scientific and Training Symposium

2013 Dependent Scholarship Winners

Six students won funding through the 2013 PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation’s Dependent Scholarship program. Eligible applicants were spouses, children and grandchildren of active duty or retired members of the COF affiliate, the Commissioned Officers Association.

Twelve students, mostly sons and daughters of PHS officers, applied for funding. The Selection Committee, composed of active duty and retired officers, scored each application. The reviewers chose the student with the highest score as this year’s winner of the Ronald Lessing Memorial Scholarship, which comes with a cash prize of $1,000. The award is named in honor of Ronald Lessing, the brother of CAPT Melvin Lessing, USPHS (Ret.).


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