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Community Character: 'Dahlia Dude' brings color and happiness to hospital patients, staff

Bob Hemus delivers multi-colored dahlias to Curry Health Network. (Curry Health Network)

"I've come across a lot of unhappy people," says Bob Hemus.

Bob delivers his dahlias to the Curry Health Network hospital down the hill from his home in Gold Beach.

"He just makes everybody happy," Judy Tompkins, who works at the Registration desks at CHN, said. "He just wants to, you know, bring some cheer to everyone."

"It's probably been one of the best distractions," Richard Burton, a cardio-pulmonary technician at the hospital, said.

"Everybody that sees these, they're just overwhelmed," Virginia Razo, CEO of CHN, said.

Bob started delivering the flowers to the hospital a little over a year ago when construction finished. He started with the Emergency Room area and slowly grew to envelop the entire hospital.

"It just occurred to me one day maybe if I brought some of my color and some of my beauty from my yard, into one of these places, it might brighten someone's day," Bob said.

The dahlia season is over for 2018, but Bob grows them at home competitively. He takes pride in his work. He takes even more pride in spreading his colors.

"From the ER, I went right up to the patient floor because I know that there's people up there that may not have family, or may not have any color or happiness in their room at all," Bob said.

The flowers aren't just for the patients, but for the staff as well.

"At first I thought we were buying them!" Razo joked. "I thought, 'What's the budget that? How much are we paying for these flowers, because they're everywhere and they are beautiful!'"

The staff really gets into the flowers and the variety of colors Bob brings in.

"We'll run around taking pictures with the flowers," Tompkins said. "We match sometimes! Like one day I wore orange so we had to make sure there were orange and pink flowers and put them on the desks."

It may be a colorful display, but Bob noticed the general colorless appearance of hospitals because of his own visits.

"I have prostate cancer and it's metastasized as they call it - stage four," Bob said.

On the day of News 10's interview with Bob in November, he found out that morning his cancer had spread to his lungs. That doesn't stop him from making his deliveries, though.

"When I take the flowers to the hospital, I look forward to that because I do take away from there a really enjoyable time of where I'm not thinking about being sick," Bob said. "It's a win-win situation. They might not realize what they give back to me."

He will continue to deliver the flowers as long as he can because the dahlias bring color and happiness to patients, staff and Bob in what can be a colorless place.

"The feelings that you typically feel when you go to a doctor's office is kind of a dreadful feeling," Razo said. "You're not sure, you're scared, you're vulnerable."

"There's some really good people down there that they deserve some happiness in their work life," Bob said.

Coincidentally on Monday, Bob also formally received the River Manager of the Year award from the River Manager Society. It's a nationally recognized award that he has earned after working for the U.S. Forest Service as Marine Patrol on the Rogue River for more than 30 years.

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