PHOTOPHILE- Emily's Center: Tearing down to build up


Emily Couric's father, John, with her brother John Jr. and sister Clara Batchelor looking on, is greeted by Governor Tim Kaine at the groundbreaking.

Virginia is finally getting a tangible symbol of the Charlottesvillian who might have become Virginia's first female governor, as ground was broken Saturday, April 12, for the long-awaited Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center.

An outpatient facility, the new Center honors the former Charlottesville School Board member and state senator whose life and political career were cut short by pancreatic cancer.

At her funeral in 2001, Emily Couric's friends and family members told stories of a woman whose will to fight the dreaded disease included same-day cancer treatments and legislative actions.

Noting that doctors at UVA currently see 41,000 outpatients annually and that one-third of those patients travel at least 100 miles for the services, the medical center hopes the five-story, 150,000-square-foot Center will provide a more holistic array of services to patients and their families.

Couric's husband, George Beller, is one of the top cardiologists at UVA. Her family, however, is no stranger to cancer, as Couric's sister, well-known CBS newscaster Katie Couric, lost her husband to colon cancer a few years ago.

At Saturday's ceremony, the birth of one facility signaled the death of another. Following encouraging words from Beller, UVA's President John Casteen, and medical center chief executive R. Edward Howell, members of the Cavalier Marching Band erupted into the "1812 Overture" as a piece of heavy machinery began demolishing the brick skin of the West Parking Garage opposite the Primary Care Center of the new hospital.

According to a UVA release, the state is contributing $25 million, the UVA Medical Center has committed another $20 million, and private donors have offered about $16 million, with more donations expected, for the $74 million facility, whose construction should be complete in 2011. An adjacent education/resource center will cost an additional $4.6 million.

Governor Tim Kaine meets the press.

The Link-Belt 330 LX excavator rips into the old garage.

Marching Cavaliers accompany the demo.

George Beller speaks of his late wife's impact on the community.

Governor Kaine, left, and UVA's Casteen and Howell, right, join the extended Couric family.

Ebullient younger sister Katie Couric chats with sister Clara Batchelor and the governor.