Longtime hospital CEO Bob Valliant dies at 64

Executive served at Bartlett for 17 years

Posted: Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Robert "Bob" Valliant, longtime chief executive officer of Bartlett Regional Hospital, died early Tuesday after a battle with cancer, the hospital announced. He was 64.

"In the 17 years he has been here, he has made Bartlett into what it is today," said Marilyn Freymueller, a friend and former hospital board member.

She said Valliant was particularly proud of his role in creating the Reifenstein Dialysis Center, the Bartlett Foundation, and the Bartlett House.

"Bob had the foresight to bring it all together," she said.

Freymueller described his leadership style as "very strong and very committed. He was able to work with other people very well, not only in the hospital, but in the community."

Valliant was active in the Juneau Chamber of Commerce and the Glacier Valley Rotary Cub.

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He also served on numerous state, regional and national organizations, including the Qualis Health Board of Directors, a nonprofit quality improvement organization, and the American College of Healthcare Executives.

He was past president of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association and former chair of a task force on domestic violence.

Valliant was born and raised in Oklahoma, where he attended the University of Oklahoma.

He served in Vietnam and was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, four Bronze Stars - three for valor in combat - and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

He left an 11-year army career after attaining the rank of major and began a career in hospital administration.

His came to Juneau in 1989 on an assignment that was meant to be a three-month interim stint as Bartlett's CEO. It soon became a full-time job.

Valliant's wife and stepson joined him, and the family fell in love with the city.

Jim Richardson, current interim CEO at Bartlett, said that while he had not known Valliant long, his 17 years in the position showed how much he was admired.

"He stayed here longer than the average CEO tenure," Richardson said. "There is a lot of sadness here today. The community is probably extensively aware of his major accomplishments."

Jonathan Sugarman, president and CEO of the Seattle-based nonprofit healthcare group Qualis, said Valliant was a highly respected member of the board, where he served for 11 years.

"He always brought a very practical approach to any deliberations and he helped other board members identify solutions to clarify problems," Sugarman said.

"It was often clear that the discipline and experience he gained in the military transferred into his professional life. He was very systematic and thoughtful. He was really a can-do guy."

Valliant was diagnosed with bladder cancer in May 2005 and taken to Anchorage for treatment. His Anchorage physicians determined his condition was inoperable and Valliant returned to Juneau, where he underwent chemotherapy.

Valliant is survived by Josie, his wife of 18 years; sons Jason and John Valliant, stepson Bruno Del Olmo, and sister Barbara Clyde.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com.

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