The Asheville Living Treasures selection committee is happy to announce the selection of Bob Burgin, Sophie Dixon and Thomas Sanders for the Spring 2016 Class of Asheville Living Treasures. The Recognition Ceremony honoring them will be on Sunday May 22, 2016, at 1:30 p.m. in the Manheimer Room at UNC Asheville’s Reuter Center. The Ceremony will include each Treasure being recognized by representatives of City of Asheville and Buncombe County. Families and friends are invited to share stories and reminiscences. The event is in partnership with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and is open to the public. Donations are welcomed to help offset expenses.

Bob Burgin 75 moved to Asheville in 1981. As CEO of Mission Hospital, the county’s largest employer and community hospital, he collaborated with the staff, physicians, and board to improve the quality, morale, and vision of health care in our area.  His inclusiveness and leadership led to Mission Health Center becoming one of the most highly rated in the U.S. During his tenure, OB/GYN and Pediatrics were expanded, the Owen Heart Center opened, employee childcare services were started, and MAMA helicopters were added for needed transportation in the mountain region; an ethics committee was created including a committee to improve African-American relations in the hospital. In retirement, Bob continues to volunteer and serve the community. He is very supportive and active with the United Way, and works in the Community garden of the Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, growing vegetables for distribution to people in need.

 Sophie Dixon 78 is a native of Asheville (Stumptown). She retired from Tycos/Welch Allyn, Inc. after 35 years of service as a Customer Service Manager. Retirement has not slowed her down. A member of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church for over 65 years, she is a charter member of the Board Mt. Zion Community Development Corporation, Inc. and has served as its Treasurer. Sophie is a Life Member of the NAACP, a Past President and a Past Vice President of the Asheville-Buncombe County Branch. She is chair of the Empowerment Resource Center of Asheville/Buncombe, Inc., a non-profit that helps provide opportunities for people of color, and those of low wealth communities, to achieve homeownership, job readiness, entrepreneurship, health awareness, etc. She serves as a full-time volunteer as Office Coordinator at the Empowerment Center and is the co-founder of WRES-FM 100.7.

Thomas Sanders 83 was born and raised in West Asheville. He taught religious studies at Brown University. Through Brown, an American studies group led him to South America. An expert on South America, he speaks Spanish (and multiple other languages, including Turkish). His religious studies background has taken him to many parts of the world including the Middle East. Thomas has always been active in civil rights and freedom of speech causes. After retiring from academia, he returned to Asheville and helped build the foundation for the College for Seniors program at UNCA – then called the North Carolina Center for Creative retirement, now Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He loves teaching; as a volunteer at OLLI his classes span periods of history including the Scottish enlightenment, Fascism, Nazism, the French Revolution, U.S. colonial history and the Civil War.

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