Daniel Walsh, described by colleagues as one of the most talented executives to lead hospitals on Long Island, has died after a decadelong battle with multiple myeloma, cancer of the blood’s plasma cells. He was 71.
Walsh, who had moved to Fairfield, Connecticut, about eight years ago, died Saturday at home. Friends say he told doctors who were aiding his cancer fight that he had a key, remaining goal in life — to walk his daughter, Danielle, down the aisle. He was able to do so last month.
“One of the words people always use to describe him is genuine,” said Ann Walsh, his wife of 29 years. “Genuine and respected.”
For a nearly decade, Walsh was president and chief executive of Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, where he guided the institution out of a tough fiscal period between 1999 and 2008. The medical center is now known as NYU Winthrop University Hospital.
While there, Walsh oversaw the establishment of several marquee services and programs, such as the hospital’s CyberKnife system, a noninvasive and highly targeted form of radiation treatment that addresses cancerous and noncancerous tumors.
“His tenure marked a time of enormous change for hospitals in general and hospitals on Long Island in particular,” Charles M. Strain, NYU Winthrop’s chairman of the board said in a statement Tuesday.
“Dan recognized the importance of having a strong clinical alliance here in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and played an integral role in guiding Winthrop through the early years of our affiliation with South Nassau Communities Hospital and the formation of the Long Island Health Network,” Strain said.
One of Walsh’s biggest impacts on Long Island was during his 16 years at the helm of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip as its president and chief executive.
“Dan was very talented and understood the environment in which hospitals were changing,” said Richard Murphy, president and chief executive of South Nassau Communities Hospital. Murphy served under Walsh as vice president of administration at Good Samaritan.
“Dan was able to steer Good Sam through a very turbulent time, and he was very successful,” Murphy said. “The hospital went through a renaissance of growth with Dan.”
Murphy said when Walsh assumed duties as Good Samaritan’s chief executive, the hospital’s budget was $175 million annually. By the time he left it was over a half-billion dollars.
“He took the hospital through some major building programs: new operating rooms, new ICUs. The reputation of the hospital grew dramatically from a small Suffolk County hospital to become one of Suffolk’s largest and most diversified medical centers,” Murphy said.
Thomas Ockers, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Good Samaritan, said Walsh left an indelible legacy both on the institution as well as the hearts of many employees who fondly remember him. “We go back more than 30 years in this field, back when I was at St. Francis [Hospital in Roslyn] and he was at Good Samaritan. We kept in contact after all those years,” Ockers said.
“He was a wonderful guy and viewed as a leader in this field on Long Island,” Ockers said.
Daniel Peter Walsh was born March 20, 1946, in Howard Beach, Queens, where he attended elementary through high school before heading to Rutgers University in 1963. There, he majored in economics, and graduated in 1967. Walsh received an MBA from Michigan State University in 1968 and met his wife, Ann, in the late 1980s.
“I was working in health care on Long Island and we met at a business meeting,” Ann Walsh said. “He had three young children, and custody of the children. What was so striking to me is that he was such a gentleman.”
Ann and Dan Walsh had three children together and the family grew even larger with the addition of five grandchildren, Ann Walsh said.
Walsh also is survived by his 109-year-old mother, Mary; four daughters, Cara, Lauren, Danielle and Marysa; two sons, James and Andrew; and three sisters, Ann, Kay and Mary.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Pius X Church, 834 Brookside Dr., Fairfield, Connecticut. Interment will be at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Trumbull, Connecticut.