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Event history

For twenty-five years a dedicated group of individuals hosted an amazing event in our community. The event, originally known as the Omar T. Pace Gala, became The Evening of Hope Gala and over the years it raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support American Cancer Society services in Western Massachusetts and beyond.  In addition, it honored the courage and hard work of many individual with the Omar T. Pace Award each year.

Who is omar t. pace?

Omar T. Pace, M.D. was a prominent surgeon in Springfield and very active in the American Cancer Society.  He was born in a sod house in the sand hills of Nebraska, grew up in Iowa and obtained his M.D. degree from the University of Iowa in 1943. Dr. Pace did postgraduate surgical training at Salt Lake City General Hospital, Utah; Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, MD; Louisville Hospital, Kentucky and MA State Cancer Hospital in Westfield, MA.


Dr. Pace remained closely involved with the State Cancer Hospital over the years which had the only program outside of Massachusetts approved by the American Board of Surgery for surgical training graduating 100 doctors. From 1964-1970, Dr. Pace was Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery. Dr. Pace started his practice in Springfield in 1949 in general and cancer surgery. He operated in most of the local hospitals including Springfield, Wesson, Springfield Municipal, State Cancer Hospital, Noble & Holyoke Soldier's. Often this was assisting his colleagues on more major procedures.


Dr. Pace concentrated his professional activities to one local hospital, now Baystate Medical Center. He served and chaired many of the hospital committees: credentials, executive of the Department of Surgery and of the hospital executive committee from 1970-1975: search committee for the new department Chief five times: goals for the hospital twice: instrument committee: planning operating rooms twice: joint conference committee of trustees & medical staff: compensation 1970: isotope committee in 1955: radiation therapy 1977: and in 1950 chaired the fluid & electrolyte committee giving hundreds of lectures to physicians, students & nurses and developed a fluid balance sheet which was used throughout the hospital for 30 years. He chaired the committee for Baystate Medical Centennial Celebration in 1983. He served on medical issues and priorities with the merger of Baystate & Wesson Hospitals. He was director of Surgical Oncology until 1989 and served on the cancer service.  He was the Assistant Clinical Surgical Instructor of Tufts Medical School 1970-1990: assistant instructor in surgery at Tufts 1956-1960: Albany Medical School 1962-1965 and was certified by the American Board of Surgery in 1950 and re-certified in 1980.


Dr. Pace was also involved with many professional organizations including, but not limited to:

  • Beginning in 1949: American Medical Association; Hampden District Medical Society; Massachusetts Medical Society; International College of Surgeons

  • 1960: a member of the committee on applicants interviewing all surgeons from Western Massachusetts, becoming its Chair 1972-1988 reporting to Boston and Chicago;

  • Beginning in 1962 New England Surgical Society, New England Medical Association, Springfield Academy of Medicine and its President 1964-1965; New England Cancer Society and its President 1978-1979

  • 1963: became deeply involved in the Kellogg's Springfield Health Study which became the Western MA Health Planning Council and was President 1972-1973

  • 1967-1972: American College of Surgeons; as councilor

  • 1976: American Society of Clinical Oncology

  • 1981-1989: International Society for Prevention of Cancer

  • 1983-1989: Society for Prevention of Breast Disease

  • 1970: organized and chaired the cancer committee of W. MA involving all the hospitals of Western Mass.  In 1975 it became the Springfield Cancer Coop funded by the State until 1981

  • 1970-1971: on the State Advisory Committee of the Hospital Survey and Planning; Governor's Council for Comprehensive Health Planning 1972-1973; Governor's Committee to develop rules and regulations for cancer care 1973

  • 1981 & 1983: Chair of the American Cancer Society's program in Western MA for testing for colon cancer


Dr. Pace’s family shared that the American Cancer Society was his favorite charity he served throughout his lifetime.

  • In 1949 he and Dr. Frederick Hopkins were the entire American Cancer Society for Western Massachusetts which over the years has grown to many units with hundreds of volunteers.

  • In 1960 he became Director of the Massachusetts Division, its President in 1970-1972, becoming a lifetime honorary director in 1988.

  • From 1972-1989 he was a Medical Delegate and Director to the National Division of the American Cancer Society.


Dr. Pace has been recognized by the American Cancer Society with various honors including:

  • 1973: a memorable recognition dinner hosted by Ray Fontana and the MA Division of the American Cancer Society

  • 1982 – 1985: The Dr. Pace's American Cancer Society Bishop Golf Tournament

  • 1987: a plaque as outstanding division volunteer

  • 1992: the annual Omar T. Pace, M.D. recognition dinner was started, honoring many leaders in the community over its 25 years

  • 1997: planted a "Dr. Pace Tree of Hope" on the grounds of Baystate Medical Center in recognition of 50 years of service


Dr. Pace was extremely active in community affairs:

  • Since 1962: a member of Rotary Club which awarded him the Paul Harris Fellowship in 1987

  • 1952-1958: He was a deacon at Faith Congregational Church. Received in 1990 from the National Conference of Christians and Jews at their annual dinner their National Human Relations Award.

  • Recognition dinner in 1991 for 10 years of administration of the Margery Sadowsky Memorial Cancer Fund at Coachlight giving $305,000 to Baystate Cancer Research Fund plus $103,000 to the American Cancer Society.

  • He gave several talks to physicians, nurses and the public on radio and TV. In 1985 he was on TV 6 times. He had numerous scientific publications.


In 1967 Dr. J. Richard Chabor joined his practice, later Drs. Vincent Guardione and David Page. In 1989 he gave up major surgery but continued to see patients. Subsequently the group, now called Pioneer Valley Surgical Associates, added Drs. Albert Alexander, Michael Albert, and Sherry Phippen. He was slowed down but not stopped by four back operations 1989-1995.


Dr. Pace wasn’t all work – he was an avid downhill skier and water skier having skied in many, many places throughout the States and Europe. He was Medical Director of Berkshire Snow Basin from 1960-1980. A member of the National Ski Patrol for twenty years. He enjoyed traveling, often in conjunction with medical and cancer meetings, eventually visiting fifty-one different countries and once around the world. He enjoyed sailing which he learned on a sailfish on Big Pond at his cottage in Otis, MA. His best sail was as doctor and crew in 1974 with Presley Blake on Blake's 100 ft. "Schooner America" from St. Thomas, Azores, Copenhagen and England. Then participating in the Tall Ships Race from Copenhagen to Gadnsk, Poland coming in first. In 1979-1989 he spent many hours restoring land and buildings on his 250 acre tree farm in Newbury, Vermont. He enjoyed photography of surgeries, cancers, family and places. Dr. Pace was married to his childhood sweetheart, Audrey Brown Pace and had a daughter and two sons.