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Community 'pillar' Jean Purvis dies

June 2, 2020 Digital Media Exclusive

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Jean Burchinal Purvis, who devoted decades of community service and worked to create a create a health center in the county for people without insurance, died Sunday. She was 98.

Jean Burchinal Purvis, whose efforts to create a health center in the county for people without insurance led to the center being named in her honor, died Sunday at home.

The beloved and admired 98-year-old Butler woman will be remembered throughout the community for her compassion, creativity and perseverance.

While on vacation in Hilton Head, S.C., in 2005, Purvis came across a clinic that provided free health care for adults without insurance. The inspiration she discovered would lead to a lasting legacy in Western Pennsylvania.

John Righetti, former vice president of relationship management for Butler Health System, said Purvis approached him a short time later with the idea of starting a clinic.

After conducting some research, he found a clinic in Erie that served people with no insurance and he took Purvis and some doctors to visit. The longtime community champion told the group then and there that she wanted the same thing in Butler.

Soon, the Community Health Clinic of Butler County started to take shape, later opening its doors to the public in 2008. The center was renamed the Jean B. Purvis Community Health Center in 2018 after its founder.

“We came back to Butler, and Jean did everything she could to make it possible. Before you knew it, she had property, union labor, volunteer staff. She made it happen,” Righetti said. “She founded that clinic and there are no payment mechanisms. No one pays for anything. The clinic relies entirely on contributions, grants and donations.”

Her obituary appears in Tuesday's Butler Eagle.

This is an excerpt — to read more about Jean Purvis and what people had to say about her contributions to the community, subscribe online or in print.

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