Kettering gave the world hundreds of inventions in his lifetime, among them the automobile self-starter, Freon for air conditioning and the incubator for premature infants, as well as the research that led to today’s medical imaging equipment.

The firsts at the Kettering Medical Center, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year, include Dayton’s first nuclear pacemaker implant; the first area use of the da Vinci S. robotic surgical system; the first hospital in southern Ohio to acquire a low dose, high-speed CT scanner; Versa HD technology; an advanced linear accelerator (LINAC) system; to deliver higher precision radiation therapy faster for cancer treatment; and recently the first area hospital system to use an electronic medical records sharing system developed by HealthBridge of Cincinnati.

The medical center was the vision of his son, Eugene, and Eugene’s wife, Virginia, who wanted to create a memorial to Kettering after his death in 1958.

Eugene and Virginia Kettering lived with their three children in the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale, Ill., during the polio epidemic of the 1950s, and when several children in their neighborhood were stricken with polio they helped create a polio ward in the nearby Hinsdale Hospital, owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Although they weren’t Adventists, the Ketterings were impressed with the atmosphere and excellent nursing care given to the children. When they returned to Dayton to manage the family’s affairs after his father’s death, they announced plans to create a hospital and research facility in his memory.

“Our desire is to create something in Dayton as a memorial to my father, something that would reflect his way of thinking—a working memorial, one that would do some good for the people. We and the Seventh-day Adventists have pledged our faith to each other in our common goal of giving the people of the Dayton area the finest general hospital we are capable of building,” Eugene said in a statement.

George Nelson, administrator of Glendale Adventist Hospital in California, was named Kettering Hospital’s founding administrator and first president. Nelson worked closely with the Ketterings in building the hospital and establishing its unique culture.

On March 3, 1964, the 300-bed hospital admitted its first patients. In 1967, Kettering College opened adjacent to the hospital, offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in health science fields. The campus, now known as Kettering Medical Center, grew in size and the variety of services offered.

Today the Kettering Health Network consists of seven area hospitals and more than 75 outpatient facilities in Greater Dayton and Northern Cincinnati. Besides the Kettering Medical Center in Kettering, they include: Fort Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton, Grandview Medical Center in Dayton, Greene Memorial Hospital in Xenia, Soin Medical Center in Beavercreeek, Southview Medical Center in Dayton and Sycamore Medical Center in Miamisburg.

For the last three years, Kettering Health Network has been named a Top 10 Healthcare System in the nation by Thomson Reuters.

To mark its 50th anniversary, the Kettering Medical Center has sponsored several events this summer including the Aug. 28 Dayton Dragons game at Fifth Third Field.