Charles Thoele, who worked alongside the Sisters of Mercy as they formed what is today the Chesterfield, Mo.-based Mercy health system, died of cancer on Oct. 12 at age 81.
In the early 1980s, Thoele, Sr. Mary Roch Rocklage, RSM, and other sisters began the work to form the health system. Thoele served as the system's first chief operating officer, beginning in 1986, according to information from Mercy. He also brought what he learned from the formation of the Mercy health system to assist with the formation of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, based in Baton Rouge, La. He was a longtime board member for the FMOL health system.
He served as a leader in Catholic health care for decades, and was a member of the CHA Board of Trustees from 1991 to 1997. He was CHA board chair in the final year of his service.
Mercy has two honors that bear his name. One is the Charles E. Thoele Scholarship Program, which has helped more than 400 youth pursue health care education at the college level. Scholarships are awarded to dependents of Mercy workers and to students from Sisters of Mercy-sponsored high schools. The other is the Charles E. Thoele Physician Leadership Award.
Thoele made an anatomical gift to Saint Louis University medical school, Mercy said. A Mass for Thoele was being planned as Catholic Health World went to press.
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