Local son honors late father's 36,000 volunteer hours

A man who gave more than three decades to a hospital is carrying on his work.

Every year on his father’s birthday, Joe Thielemann volunteers at Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg in honor of his father, Jack Thielemann.

Jack volunteered at Northside for more than 35 years before passing away in 2011, and now his son is honoring him with even more service.

Northside was built in 1976. That’s when Jack started volunteering.

“The big joke around the hospital is that Jack was sitting in a chair in a grass field and they built the hospital around him,” says Thielemann.

In his last several years at the hospital, Jack would sit in the hospital’s main hallway, greeting people and directing them to where they needed to go.

Jack amassed almost 36,000 volunteer hours during his years at the hospital, which now has a plaque and an award named after him.

Get this: Jack worked those thousands of hours, with a serious medical issue.

“He had lung cancer and they removed the right portion of his lung. They figured he would only live two or three years’ tops. He ended up living 36 years,” he says.

This week would have been Jack's 93rd birthday. So his son Jack spent Thursday morning at the hospital, bringing smiles to those passing by, just like his dad.

“There are people that are really depressed and just a simple "Have a good day" is like, wow, somebody else cares,” he says.

Jack's 35 years equaled to someone having a full-time job for 17 years at a 40-hour week.

He picked Northside Hospital because it was close to home and needed volunteers. 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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