John Bell Remembering Dr. Art Ablin

In 1981, I met Art for the first time. He had just completed a Family House for UCSF patients. I wanted to start a camp for children with cancer, and the medical community was already considering a similar program. Art explained to me that the medical staff, like himself, would all volunteer and they only needed $10,000 to make it happen. As he would tell everyone who became a supporter, we did not need “donations,” we needed “investors,” who wanted to invest in these kids and their families. I jumped at the chance and just as Art said, after 36 years my investment has been repaid a million times over.

Over the course of my life I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people, but I never met anyone I admired more than Art.  Avid naturalists, he and his wife Deborah are responsible for the Nature Center at camp, as well as paying our mortgage.

Many of Art’s patients have come back to be counselors and leaders at camp and within our organization.  Art would give all the credit to others but Camp Okizu would never have become the experience it is without the Ablins.

I will miss sharing the little things about nature like not being able to tell him about the whipsnake I saw Saturday. He would have been very excited.

Years ago, at a fundraising event, Art wanted to acknowledge the camp and so had a plan to give me a plaque to commemorate my service. But he forgot to get the plaque done, so at the dinner he wrapped up two magazines about the size of a plaque and when it should have been his spotlight he gave me the package and the “award.”

I have had no greater honor.

You will always be in our hearts at Okizu my friend.

John Bell

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