Masonic Chair Goes to Turesky

Robert Turesky, Ph.D., Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota, has been appointed as the Masonic Chair in Cancer Causation. The appointment was made possible through Minnesota Masonic Charities’ accelerated pledge payment made to the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota of $25 million, which will advance important research programs now underway.

Turesky’s research focuses on what happens in the body when people ingest chemicals that are formed from grilled and fried meats, or when meat is cooked over an open flame. Turesky’s research has shown that higher temperatures and longer cooking times lead to higher levels of chemicals that can, upon ingestion, react with enzymes in our bodies to become “reactive intermediates” that can damage DNA.

Dr. Turesky is the Director of the Analytical Biochemistry shared resource at the Masonic Cancer Center. He has also served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and as Division Director of Chemistry at the National Center for Toxicological Research of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I am thrilled to receive this appointment,” said Turesky. “Minnesota Masonic Charities has been an important source of support to my research program, for which I am most grateful.”

Long-time MMH Employee Receives Service Award

Lorys “Johnnie” Penrod Recognized for 47 Years of Exemplary Service

These days, it is hard to find a nursing home employee as dedicated as Lorys “Johnnie” Penrod. Having served in several positions during her 47-year tenure at Minnesota Masonic Home, Johnnie exemplifies dedication in the truest sense of the word.

Escorted by her son, Johnnie accepts the Care Providers of Minnesota award.

On November 12 at their annual conference, Care Providers of Minnesota named Johnnie the recipient of their Dedicated Service Award, which recognizes a provider employee whose service “over the course of his/her career has positively enhanced the quality of life for individuals in a care setting.” According to her colleagues at Minnesota Masonic Home, that describes Johnnie perfectly.

“She is an inspiration,” said Beth Schroeder, administrator of Minnesota Masonic Home. “When I ask her when she plans to retire, she tells me she needs to work three more years to make it to her 50-year employment anniversary.”

Schroeder and many other MMH staff sang Johnnie’s praises in letters to Care Providers as part of her award nomination. Their words reflect Johnnie’s consistent commitment to quality care in an industry that has seen its share of changes.

She began her storied career in early 1971, serving as the day nurse aide for three buildings on the Masonic Home campus (each shift only provided for one aide). Because there were so many demands on her time, Johnnie was instrumental in streamlining many processes at MMH; in one case, devising a magnetic tag system for the doors of the Board & Care wing that identified the care needs of each resident in case of an emergency.

“Any of us who has ever put a parent into a nursing home hopes that someone who is as compassionate as Johnnie was there when we could not be,” said then-Governor Jesse Ventura when he presented Johnnie with the Minnesota Health and Housing Alliance “1999 Caregiver of the Year” award. Ventura later presented Johnnie with the “Governor’s Award for a Better Minnesota,” adding, “Every caring word spent in these years of service has made Minnesota a better place.”

Johnnie remains a fixture at Minnesota Masonic Home, a place where she intends to work because, she says, “I believe in what we do, and I believe in the great people who work here.”

An inspiration indeed.