COOS BAY – A husband-wife medical team with an impressive record of public service was awarded the fifth annual John Whitty Award for Excellence for their numerous contributions to the health and well- being of our community.

Dr. Steven Shimotakahara and Eva Shimotakahara were honored for projects that included 14 years of providing free ear, nose and throat treatment to uninsured patients at a monthly clinic.

“They are community people who care and are willing to put time, energy, passion and resources into making a better community,” said state Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay.

Roblan was among the speakers at a weekend celebration honoring the Shimotakaharas.

Steven Shimotakahara is a board-certified ear, nose, throat and neck surgeon. His wife is a registered nurse who works part-time in her husband’s practice. Since moving to the Coos Bay area 20 years ago, they have led a long string of community projects:

  • Through their Missions in Health clinic at North Bend United Methodist Church, they provided free care to an estimated 1,800 to 2,500 uninsured patients. The clinic ended after fire destroyed the church, but the Shimotakaharas have continued their service as volunteers at the Waterfall Clinic.
  • In the 1990s, Eva Shimotakahara organized the local American Cancer Society chapter’s first Relay For Life. It raised $142,000.
  • They organized separate campaigns to warn local school children about online predators and chewing tobacco.
  • An avid roller-hockey player, Steven Shimotakahara led a group that raised nearly $200,000 to build the Empire Sports Park, commonly called “the Thunderdome.”
  • As president of the Oregon Medical Association Alliance, Eva Shimotakahara focused that organization on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
  • This summer, they joined a one-week medical mission to Guatemala.

“Eva and I are incredibly stubborn people,” Steven Shimotakahara said. “When we get an idea into our minds, it keeps going.”

Roblan noted that the Shimotakaharas could have spent their time in many ways, but they consistently have opted for community service.

“It’s just part of who they are,” Roblan said.

Steven Shimotakahara earned his medical degree at McGill University in Montreal. Before moving to Oregon, he taught at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington. He chairs the North Bend Medical Center Board of Directors and is an Oregon Medical Association board member.

Eva Shimotakahara has a nursing degree from St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia. She taught nursing in Nova Scotia.

They have three grown children: Tim, 36, is founder and CEO of in Bellevue, Wash.; Alexandra, 35, is a writer in Toronto; Danielle, 26, is a U.S. Coast Guard welder in Astoria.

The Bay Area Hospital Community foundation established the Whitty Award in 2009 to recognize individuals dedicated to improving the community’s health and well-being. It was named for Coos Bay attorney John Whitty, who was the first recipient. The Shimotakaharas are the first couple to win the award.