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Archive for February, 2011

$50M phone call

Ground breaking for The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, 2/26/1966.  l-r:  Dr. Eric R. Walker, Samuel Hinkle, (?), Arthur Whiteman, George T. Harrell

Ground breaking for The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, 2/26/1966. l-r: Dr. Eric R. Walker, Samuel Hinkle, (?), Arthur Whiteman, George T. Harrell


Hershey is fortunate to be home to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.  Because of it Hershey has access to a world class medical facility and some of the finest medical care in the United States.  How and why Penn State came to Derry Township to build a medical school and teaching hospital is a fascinating story, one best told by Samuel Hinkle, who was President of Hershey Chocolate Corporation and serving on the Board of the Hershey Trust Company and as Trustee of Penn State University at the time the decision was made.

It was Mr. Hinkle who first proposed using the money for the “construction, operation and endowment of a medical center.” In Sam Hinkle’s oral history interview found in the Hershey Community Archives he related:  My own conclusion was that he [Milton Hershey] was so interested in relieving human suffering, that he would certainly approve an idea where we could have a fine medical school and teaching hospital here.”  Once the Hershey Trust Board and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office agreed with the plan, Sam Hinkle made a phone call to Eric Walker, then President of Penn State University.  In his oral history, Hinkle continued his story: 

I asked Dr. Walker to stop by one day when he was coming through.  When he did stop, we met at the airport here in Hershey, and brought him into the office.  A few of us gathered around the table and said–I’d been on the board of trustees up there at that time–“Eric, what would you say if we tried to start a medical school for Penn State here in Hershey?



 He said, “Sam, you might as well save your breath, my time, and forget it.  There isn’t a five-cent-piece to be had for a medical school either here or anywhere else in Pennsylvania for Penn State.”

I said, “Eric, what would you say if I told you we had $50 million for you to start with?”

His eyes popped and he said, “That would be different.  I’ll take it up with my board.”  So he went back and the board approved, of course.


One of the most important conditions Hershey placed on their proposed gift was that the Medical Center must be located in Derry Township, as Mr. Hershey’s Deed of Trust stated.  On August 23, 1963 Pennsylvania Orphans Court approved a $50 million gift from the Milton Hershey School Trust to The M.S. Hershey Foundation which would serve as the conduit of the money to build the Pennsylvania State University medical school and teaching hospital.  The complex would be known as The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.  Breaking ground on February 26, 1966, the Medical Center was completed in 1970.  And on October 14, 1970 Hershey Hospital closed to the public and patients were transferred to the new facility.  A formal dedication for the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center of the Pennsylvania State was held June 5, 1971.   Over the years the original medical center has greatly expanded as many millions of dollars have been invested in new facilities for research and patient care.  In the 1990s, the medical center emerged as the township’s  largest employer, with more than 6000 employees.

Hershey Skating Club



Hershey Ice Palace, ca.1931-1935
Hershey Ice Palace, ca.1931-1935


The Hershey Skating Club has been an active part of our community since its founding in 1934.   Though it was officially established that year, Hershey’s interest in figure skating dates much earlier.  When the Hershey Ice Palace opened in 1931, a small group of figure skaters from Lancaster joined to together as an informal club and came to Hershey to practice their “figures.” 
Skaters pose on the ice at the Hershey Ice Palace, ca. 1931-1935

 Over the next few years the group expanded to include skaters from Harrisburg, Hershey and Reading.  The idea for an established club grew out of the group’s desire to be able to rent the rink for sessions devoted to figure skating.  Club membership grew from its original 48 skaters to over a group of 125 members at the end of the 1937-1938 season. Milton Hershey was very supportive of the Skating Club.  During his lifetime the Club was able to use the Ice Palace and then the Sports Arena without charge.


The same year the club was established Hershey sponsored its first Ice Carnival, featuring well-known professional figure skaters.  The first two shows were choreographed by Joe Chapman of the Philadelphia Skating Club.  The club was also assisted by Roy Shipstad, creator of the Ice Follies, who came frequently during 1935 to offer lessons, while serving as the Ice Pro at Baltimore.  For the 1936-1937 season the Club hired its first skating professionals, Evelyn Chandler and Bruce Mapes, who offered lessons and oversaw development of the annual ice show.

Evelyn Chandler, Hershey ice skating professional, 1945

Evelyn Chandler, Hershey's first ice skating professional, 1945

 The Club’s Ice Show was very popular in the community. The number of performances offered quickly increased from one show the first year to three shows.  Even with the expansion, tickets sold out quickly and many were turned away at the door.   

Hershey Skating Club Ice Carnival, 1959

Hershey Skating Club, Winter Carnival, 1959

Hershey’s interest in figure skating as well as hockey was a key factor in Milton Hershey’s decision to build the Hershey Sports Arena in 1936. Since then the Figure Skating Club has played an important role in our community’s recreational life, providing opportunities for learning and practicing figure skating to children and adults. Over the years the Club has also hosted a number of regional and national competitions, beginning with the 1953 United States Figure Skating Championship and most recently the 1992 Pro-Am Competition.