A history of compassion in Parkinson’s disease care

Today, Struthers Parkinson's Center is a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence. We’ve come a long way since our beginnings, but one thing has never changed: our dedication to improving care for people with Parkinson’s disease.

At the core of our institution is our talented team of movement disorder experts and one woman’s legacy of leadership that has been our guiding light.

“If there is one little thing I can do for someone else on earth while I’m alive, then I want to do it.” 

Alan Struthers was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1986, sending him, and his wife, Evelyn, on a search for ways to meet the physical and emotional challenges ahead. They found little help until meeting Paul Silverstein, MD, and his team of specialists at Methodist Hospital Parkinson’s Center.

Evelyn immersed herself in helping Alan and others facing Parkinson’s. In 1989, Evelyn and Alan funded a pilot program that provided respite day care for Parkinson’s patients. There was such a strong demand for this program that they provided the primary financial support to establish what is now known as Club Create (Center for Research, Education, Artistic and Therapeutic Endeavors).

Formed through a partnership between Parkinson’s Center staff and members of the Parkinson’s community, the innovative Club Create program enhances participants’ quality of life.

In 1995, Parkinson’s Center had outgrown its space inside Methodist Hospital. Evelyn and her family, along with center leaders, dreamed of a world-class, free-standing facility focusing on people with Parkinson’s disease and their families. To fulfill this dream, the Struthers family became the major donors for a new facility in Golden Valley. Struthers Parkinson’s Center opened in late 1995. 

The gift of heart and soul

Evelyn was a tireless volunteer at the center, and would regularly say, "If there is one little thing I can do for someone else on earth while I'm alive, then I want to do it. If someone is glad you're here, then your life has meaning."

Many visitors to the center only knew her as their favorite volunteer, "Evie," and had no idea that she was the leader who made it possible for this unique center to be created. Evelyn also served as an active member of the center's Community Advisory Board until her passing in 2013. Her children, grandchildren and extended family carry on the tradition of leadership, volunteerism and support.

Evelyn Struthers has left a legacy of inspiration and leadership and remains the heart and soul of Struthers Parkinson's Center.

In 2019, the HealthPartners Parkinson’s Center in St. Paul became our second Struthers location. The Parkinson’s Foundation considers Struthers St. Paul a certified center of excellence as a satellite clinic. Within the HealthPartners Neuroscience Center, our St. Paul location offers the same outstanding care for our patients and families in the eastern metro.