Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

CRCF names Dr. Lewis and Doris, Walt and Ruth Reisner 2023 Friends of the Foundation

Fri, Apr 21st 2023 08:00 am

The multi-generational philanthropy of the Reisner family has had and will long continue to have a deep impact on the greater Olean community.

In recognition of their exemplary philanthropy and community spirit, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation will honor Dr. Lewis, Doris, Walt (posthumously) and Ruth Reisner as the 2023 Friends of the Foundation at CRCF’s annual Friends of the Foundation Luncheon event.

CRCF’s Friend of the Foundation award is the organization’s most prestigious. It honors a person or persons who have established a fund or funds there and given generously and consistently over the years; an individual who has donated generously to existing funds; and/or someone who continues the Foundation’s mission through giving and volunteerism.

Three major endowment funds at CRCF bear the Reisner family name, the first of which were established through a gift from Doris Reisner: The Doris Reisner Endowment Fund and the Lewis and Doris Reisner Endowment Fund.

Lewis and Doris together were lifelong philanthropists, and Doris’ forward thinking ensured that their philanthropy in the community would continue in perpetuity.

Lewis Reisner served as a board-certified OB/GYN for 45 years. He was one of the earliest members of the Olean Medical Group.

Over the course of his career, Lewis estimated he delivered some 7,000 babies.

The Lewis and Doris Reisner Endowment Fund carries on his legacy in the region’s medical field by making annual grants to the Olean General Hospital Foundation.

Since the fund was established in 2000, it has supported over $144,000 in grants that have made possible major capital improvements at Olean General Hospital, including a state-of-the-art distance learning facility for emergency medical providers, UV sanitizer, stroke beds for the emergency room and a new triage center for the hospital’s obstetrics department.

Lewis and Doris were generous donors to a number of causes during their lives, and Doris was a driven and dedicated community volunteer as well.

Doris was one of the original founders of the ReHabilitation Foundation and a volunteer with the blind association and St. Mark’s Guild at St. Stephen’s Church as well as many other charities.

Today, the Doris Reisner Endowment Fund provides annual grants to 10 nonprofit organizations set forth by Doris through her charitable planning, including St. Stephen’s Church, the ReHabilitation Foundation, HomeCare and Hospice, Genesis House and more.

Walter Reisner II, the son of Lewis and Doris, and his wife Ruth Reisner, carried on the family’s torch of philanthropy and community service.

Walter always had a passion for medicine. When he married Ruth, who was an RN working in a supervisory capacity mainly in the emergency room and ICCU, his passion deepened. He became an EMT and joined the Allegany Volunteer Fire Department, where he received the EMT of the Year award and was given the honor of lifetime membership status.

These were the catalysts that led Walt and Ruth together to establish Trans Am Ambulance Services, Inc. in 1982.  Walter was the COO of Trans Am, an EMTCC, and a certified instructor coordinator training new EMTs. In 2016 he was awarded the L.O.U.I.E. award for Outstanding Enterprising Spirit by the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce

Walt’s work in the emergency medical field would gain him recognition not just locally, but also nationally. He was appointed to the Rural Health Network by Gov. George Pataki, served as the first-ever chairman of the United New York Ambulance Network and even testified before Congress in 1997 to advocate for allowing insurance coverage for rural paramedic intercept services in rural New York.

Along with being TransAm's CEO and CFO, Ruth also handled the company's compliance and office, all while continuing to be a practicing RN and EMTCC. Ruth has donated her time and talents to our community in many ways over the past 45 years.

She started as an RN at the local hospitals before opening Trans Am. In the beginning, Ruth was an RN on ambulance transports requiring a higher level of care. She was also a CPR instructor for the American Red Cross, a Certified Lab Instructor who assisted in the training of new EMT's and a board member of the Greater Olean Chamber of Commerce. 

In 2000 she was inducted into The American Biographical Institute's Two Thousand Notable American Women Hall of Fame for Outstanding Achievements in the Nursing Profession. Through Ruth's Leadership Trans Am became CAAS certified (Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services), which is the Gold Standard for Ambulance Companies. Additionally Trans Am was a Certified Woman Owned Business until Ruth and Walt sold the Company  in 2014 to Priority Ambulance.

Walt and Ruth, like Walt’s parents before him, also supported a number of community causes financially during their lifetime.

When Walt passed away in 2017, Ruth decided to continue her husband’s memory by

establishing a fund in their names to benefit two causes near to their hearts, Olean General Hospital Foundation for use for emergency medicine or obstetrics and Southern Tier Health Care Systems for continuous training of current and new EMTs and Paramedics.

Their son Todd Reisner continues to serve to this day as one of the primary instructors for this training. A fully stocked ambulance simulator has been built in Walt's memory here to assist in the training. This simulator was made possible by donations from health care providers locally and statewide.

The fund also supports an annual scholarship award for an unsung lineman on the Olean High School football team in Lewis's father, Walt's grandfather's name. The Reisners are in a long line of football players, Walter Reisner I (Grampy) starred on the Muhlenberg College football team as a quarterback. During his college career, he even played against the legend and Olympic champion Jim Thorpe.

Additionally, Walt and Ruth’s son, Jeffrey Reisner, served on the CRCF board for a number of years before moving to Syracuse with his family to continue his legal practice.

During his time on the board, Jeff was instrumental in helping a number of donors establish funds at CRCF.

“It is truly our honor to present this award to Ruth Reisner and honor her husband and his parents posthumously,” said Lucy Benson, CRCF board president. “A family like the Reisner’s who make philanthropy a core value for multiple generations is not easy to come by.”

“In honor and recognition of the Reisner family’s dedication to making this community a better and healthier place through philanthropy, we are overjoyed to name them the 2023 Friends of the Foundation honorees.”

The 2023 Friends of the Foundation Luncheon, to be held in July, will also honor the 2023 CRCF scholarship recipients.

Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the Foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).