Why I Give: The Meinzer Family’s Story

By: Emily Najera

May 10, 2023

Meinzer family on the beach

Losing a loved one is a devastating experience that can leave a permanent mark on one's heart. It is a journey that's difficult to navigate, but with the help of family and friends the process can be eased. For the Meinzer family, the healing process was made a little easier because of the exceptional care their loved one, Susie, received at Renown.

In the fall of 2022, Susie Meinzer, a breast cancer survivor, suffered a fatal stroke. The care provided by Renown’s team was a reminder of the important role healthcare workers play in the lives of their patients and families. “We just knew, the doctors, the nurses, everyone… we knew that we didn’t have much time left with Susie,” said Ken Meinzer, Susie’s widower.

Humanizing Healthcare

The compassion provided by the care team at Renown made a significant impact on the Meinzer family. They ensured that Susie's last moments were as comfortable as possible, and their kindness and empathy have stuck with the family since.

Dr. William Graham, pulmonologist with Renown Health, was among the many healthcare workers who provided care to Susie. "It was hard enough to lose her, and we ask ourselves, ‘Why?’ a lot, but the compassion we received from Dr. Graham made it a little bit easier,” said Ken. “One night he sat with us for over an hour, just grieving with us." This act of kindness made a profound impact on the family.

“As an ICU doctor, I try not only to care for my patients, but also for their families,” said Dr. Graham. “Ken and his family displayed such sincerity, compassion and love for Susie and one another. They are just wonderful people; the kind of people that inspire me to be the best doctor possible.”

A Family Legacy

In gratitude for the exceptional care Susie received, the Meinzer family, including Ken and his three daughters, Melissa, Nicole and Kyra, decided to donate to Renown Health Foundation. Their gift is a beautiful reflection of their love and devotion to Susie. “The donation was a way to say thank you, and a way to support the healthcare workers who continue to make a difference in the lives of patients and families every day,” said Ken. "The nurses in Renown’s ICU went above and beyond. They were a constant source of comfort and support for our entire family," said Melissa Meinzer-Benson, Ken and Susie’s eldest daughter.

This was not the first time the family had experienced exceptional care at Renown. Ken and Susie had both undergone cancer treatment the previous year. Susie was diagnosed with breast cancer and had recently completed her treatment before her stroke, while Ken was treated for neck cancer. Dr. Abhinand Peddada, oncologist with Renown Health, led both their care teams, demonstrating a deep dedication to their well-being throughout their treatments.

“I am grateful and humbled by the trust that Mr. and Mrs. Meinzer placed in Renown and me for their care in difficult times,” said Dr. Peddada.” Both Ken and Susie deeply appreciated Dr. Peddada’s care for them throughout their respective battles with cancer.

The Meinzer family, who own Pinnacle Heating and Air Conditioning in Reno, are known for their commitment to giving back to the community. Melissa is a Veteran and has spoken about the importance of supporting others in any way possible. Susie instilled in Melissa and her sisters a spirit of compassion from an early age, and they have continued to donate to charitable causes throughout their lives. “She was such a force of inspiration, compassion and love. She was aways caring for others,” said Kyra, Ken and Susie’s youngest daughter. Susie was a beloved member of the Oak Community Church. It was there that she spent many Thanksgivings alongside her daughters, volunteering to serve meals to those in need. Charity work was a passion for Susie, and she always found ways to help those around her. She was a shining example of the importance of supporting your community and making a positive impact on the world.

The Power of Giving

The Meinzer’s decision to donate to Renown is not only a touching tribute to Susie, but it serves as a reminder of the crucial role that charitable donations play in supporting not-for-profit healthcare. Many health systems, including Renown, rely on the generosity of donors to provide the best possible care for their patients. These donations help fund vital equipment, research and facilities; ultimately making a significant impact on patients' health outcomes.

The Meinzer family's contribution supports both cardiovascular services and Renown Institute for Neurosciences and will help provide care to those in need.

Ken, Melissa, Nicole and Kyra, your incredible support of Renown has touched the lives of so many in our community, and we cannot express enough gratitude for your kindness and generosity. Your commitment to making a difference is inspiring, and we are honored to have you as valued partners in our mission to provide exceptional healthcare to those in need. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Renown Health Foundation's Why I Give series recognizes donors, volunteers, corporations, foundations and others who provide philanthropic support to Renown. We are fortunate to have generous donors whose funding helps support and expand our efforts to meet the growing needs of the patients we serve. To learn more about how you can support Renown, please email foundation@renown.org, call 775-982-5545 or visit renown.org/give.