Back when Dr. John and Priscilla Cadwell first were married, Priscilla asked her husband about his life goals.
He noted that he shared the same initials as a man — Jesus Christ— dedicated to curing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, helping the lame to walk again and spreading the gospel.
And he wanted to do the same.
For decades, John and Priscilla Cadwell have done just that, using their influence and resources to support a vast range of causes and groups in the Tri-Cities and beyond.
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On Thursday, the Richland couple was named 2015 Tri-Citian of the Year — praised for their dedication and commitment to the community and their many good works.
“They are the ultimate team,” said Craig Eerkes, last year’s winner. “Their children describe them as movers and shakers, teachers and mentors, dreamers and doers. ... (My wife) and I are honored to call them our friends.”
The Cadwells accepted the award to a standing ovation from the crowd of hundreds at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.
The Tri-Citian of the Year winner is a closely guarded secret, kept even from the recipient or recipients until the announcement during the ceremony.
The Cadwells seemed shocked, but happy Thursday as they took the stage.
“Wow. This is so over the top,” John Cadwell said.
He talked about his love for his children and grandchildren — and for his wife.
“This is a young lady who has loved me, who has helped me, supported me, nursed me back to health, who has dragged me through tough times,” John said. “Anybody who knows me and knows Priscilla knows I wouldn’t be here without (her).”
Priscilla also talked about her love for her family.
And she praised the Tri-City community.
“I have been blessed by the generosity of this community, blessed by the spirit of this community,” she said. “What a local community. What amazing servants’ hearts this community has. We are blessed to be part of this. We are totally honored and definitely surprised and humbled by this. I hope we can live up to whatever expectations lay ahead.”
John formed Cadwell Laboratories with his brother, Carl, in 1979. Over the years, John and Priscilla have supported groups ranging from Academy of Children’s Theatre and The Chaplaincy to Friends of Badger Mountain and Women Helping Women.
They’ve funded construction of local Habitat for Humanity homes, sponsored rooms in Kadlec Regional Medical Center’s pediatrics center and neonatal intensive care unit, and established multiple scholarships.
They built and donated the Cadwell Student Center at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, a medical school in Yakima. John volunteered his time and business expertise to help the school, and Priscilla serves on the university’s regional advisory cabinet and is part of its foundation board.
Last summer, Trios Health kicked off a public fundraising campaign for advanced medical equipment for its new Trios Southridge Hospital.
John and Priscilla announced they were contributing $1 million.
“John and I are proud to stand beside you as fellow villagers, raising up our community’s access to medical care with state-of-the-art equipment,” Priscilla said during a campaign announcement event. The donation is “our way of giving back to a community that’s given us so much, especially a wonderful village in which to raise our family.”
The Cadwells were among six candidates for this year’s Tri-Citian of the Year. While it’s not unprecedented for multiple recipients to share the award, it is unusual.
The last time it happened was in 2004, when Drs. Lewis and Sara Zirkle were jointly named.
The Cadwells were nominated by friend Joyce Goldsmith and Cherami Freeman, one of their five children.
“Their commitment to philanthropy and leadership spreads far and wide but emphasizes local advancement in education, science, health, community and church,” the women wrote.
Goldsmith and Freeman mentioned the conversation John and Priscilla had early in their marriage about life goals.
“Together, John and Priscilla Cadwell have manifested those goals in meaningful, personal ways throughout their community and family,” they wrote.