Pictured above are Melissa Chalker, Anthony Mattioda and Dominic Mattioda sitting on Guy's bench. Pictured below are Anthony and Dominic, plus Guy's sister Gina and his parents, Faye and Jerry.
When Melissa Chalker graduated from college and started working at St. Charles Bend 32 years ago, one of her jobs was to deliver paper patient charts from the medical records department to the Emergency Room.
“I would do that 10 or 12, maybe 15 times each day,” she said. “And when I did that, I had to pass the satellite phlebotomy station in the main hallway twice, once on the way and once on the way back.”
One day, she spotted someone new at the station: Guy Mattioda, a phlebotomist who had recently moved from night shift to days. Mattioda was friendly and had a great sense of humor. It wasn’t long before they started dating and were married in 1993.
“If it wasn’t for that job change, I’m not sure we would’ve found each other,” Chalker said.
Eventually, Chalker moved into utilization management and Mattioda became a Registered Nurse, where he earned the nickname “Father Guy” because of his ability to put patients and families at ease. They both got to know many St. Charles caregivers. The couple’s sons, Anthony and Dominic, were both born in the Bend hospital, as well.
“St. Charles has been an important part of our life,” Chalker said.
Life changed, however, in February of 2003, when Mattioda passed away. His funeral was held at the Catholic church in downtown Bend, and it overflowed with people mourning his loss.
“I have always felt like that was a great testament to him. There were tons of people from the hospital: Doctors, nurses, people he knew, people I knew,” Chalker said. “It was really, really heartwarming.”
After the funeral, St. Charles nurses supported the family by delivering food and collecting money to install a memorial bench in Mattioda’s honor. The bench is located just outside the hospital’s main entrance.
“They asked me what the plaque should say, and I thought, ‘What touches people the most?’” Chalker said. “I think it was his smile, because he was always smiling. That’s why we put, ‘Forever smiling, Forever in our hearts.’”
For the past 20 years, Jerry and Faye Mattioda have visited the bench outside St. Charles as a way to remember and honor their son, who grew up in the family’s home just down the road from the Bend hospital. Guy also took religious classes in Sister Catherine’s home when he was a child.
“It was very touching when they placed the bench after he died, and it’s very touching now,” Jerry Mattioda said. “Time goes by, but the memory is always there.”
Over the years, the family had worked with St. Charles’ Facilities crew on upkeep of the bench, but in recent years, Mattioda noticed that it was really starting to show its age. He and Chalker discussed another round of “loving care,” Mattioda said, but word of their concerns got to Derek Miller, director of Facilities for the health system, who had a different idea: To replace the original bench, which was nearing its end of life, and install the new one in the same location.
“I can’t thank Derek enough for how quickly and graciously he responded to our request. I could stand here all day thanking him and his team, because this just means that much to our lives,” Jerry Mattioda said. “St. Charles was a very special place to Guy. He loved his job and he loved what he did here.”
On a sunny Friday afternoon in late September, the family gathered under the trees outside the Bend hospital for a short, simple ceremony, where Jerry said a few words about Guy, then Anthony and Dominic removed the original bench and put the new one in place. There were stories told and photos taken, soft chuckles and tears on cheeks. And now there is a nice, clean, new place for patients, visitors and caregivers at St. Charles Bend to sit and reflect, whether or not they remember the person behind the name on the plaque.
“The real story is kindness: The kindness of Guy and the kindness of our coworkers,” Chalker said, “and the fact that his legacy lives on.”