All Children's Hospital Foundation has bestowed its highest honor upon a local attorney and long-time advocate for children. Robert "Bob" Decker is the recipient of the 2010 William Belcher Award. A founding member of Decker Beeler, P.A., Bob joined Trenam Kemker in St. Petersburg last year. Decker is a 35-year supporter of All Children's Hospital and an advocate for our patients and families.
The award was a highlight of the 25th Annual All Children's Foundation Society Celebration on November 18th at the Club at Treasure Island. This exciting new venue offers a wide array of world-class amenities, exclusive events and a lifestyle of warmth, substance and heartfelt hospitality.
The award is given in memory of William S. "Bill" Belcher, the first All Children's Hospital Board chairman and a tireless advocate on behalf of All Children's and our patients. After Bill died in 1992, the Foundation created the William Belcher Award to honor his legacy. The Award is given to an individual who represents the leadership, commitment and passionate advocacy that Bill exemplified.
When choosing a recipient for the All Children's Hospital Foundation's highest honor each year, the criteria are simple. The recipient must be someone who gave of their time and their treasure for the patients we serve. They must be an advocate for children's healthcare issues and needs, a leader who assists in the hospital's growth and influences others to aid the cause.
This year's recipient certainly meets the criteria.
A native Nebraskan, Bob Decker earned his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Nebraska. In 1973 he completed four years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps and was discharged as a captain. The following year, Bob and his wife, Carol, moved to Pinellas County, where he joined the law firm of Fisher & Sauls. The firm's managing partner at that time, attorney Louie Adcock (the 2004 Belcher Award recipient), encouraged young associates to become active in the community, including All Children's Hospital.
In the mid-1970s Carol, along with six or seven other women, was asked to help form a new branch of the All Children's Hospital Guild in the Seminole area, near their home. This marked the beginning of the Deckers' ongoing relationship with All Children's. Bob recalls that the spouses' role of the Guild "was to support the Guild's projects in any way we could-by basically doing whatever the Guild members asked us to do. We had a lot of fun assisting with the various fundraising projects over the years."
Bob joined another St. Petersburg law firm in the 1980s and shortly thereafter was invited to join the All Children's Hospital Board of Trustees. During several terms of service he held various offices, including chair. In 2002 he joined the All Children's Health System Board of Directors and has served in several capacities, including chair.
Bob has also served as Chair of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, a member of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees, and is a past president of the St. Petersburg Bar Association. He received the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation "Heroes Among Us" award in 2008.
Bob appreciates the challenge of helping to guide All Children's growth as it adapted to changes in healthcare at the local and national level.
"I have enjoyed the interaction among senior management, physicians and hospital staff to accomplish the mission of All Children's and implement strategic plans without sacrifice to the families we serve and with a standard of care that is of the highest quality," says Bob. "The debate, review and analysis of the various factors involving in building a new hospital was a very interesting journey...and that decision also opened doors to new opportunities for the hospital in support of its mission."
The 2010 Belcher Award is a fitting tribute to Bob's commitment to All Children's mission.