Lifetime of making a difference honored

Arthur and Martha Pappas to receive Isaiah Thomas Award

By Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

February 22, 2012

The headline reads, “Lifetime of making a difference,” and nothing more true could be said about the work of Arthur and Martha Pappas. On Sunday, Feb. 19, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette featured a profile of the Pappases in recognition of their service to the city and the region, and as recipients of the 2012 Isaiah Thomas Award for leadership and philanthropy.  

The award is one of the T&G’s Vision Awards, given annually to local leaders in philanthropy, public serve and cultural and academic enrichment. This year’s awards will be presented at a ceremony at Mechanics Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Chancellor Michael F. Collins will be the keynote speaker. If you would like to attend, RSVP to Katy Donahue at 508-793-9332 or

Arthur Pappas, MD, professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation and pediatrics, has been a driving force in the success of UMass Medical School and clinical partner UMass Memorial Medical Center. He was the founding chair of the Department of Orthopedics and is fondly recalled as “the first UMMS surgeon,” having admitted and operated on the first patient in 1976 at what was then the newly constructed UMass Hospital.

He and his wife Martha Pappas are being honored for “dedicating a lifetime to improving their local community as well as enriching education, health and recreation opportunities throughout the region,” according to the T&G story, which details the Pappases’ generosity and philanthropic philosophy throughout their lives. Their most recent endeavor will be unveiled this spring: a $4.3 million youth athletic complex in their hometown of Auburn that includes Little League and soccer fields and a playground for families and children.

Arthur Pappas has received numerous awards, including the Worcester District Medical Society’s Dr. A. Jane Fitzpatrick Community Service Award in November 1999, and the Physician Achievement Award from the Arthritis Foundation in 2000. He was also presented with the Dr. Marian Ropes Award from the Arthritis Foundation. In 2003, multiple donors joined UMass Medical School in honoring Pappas by establishing the Arthur M. Pappas, MD, Chair in Orthopedics, with David C. Ayers, MD, invested as its first recipient. In 2011, the Massachusetts Medical Society bestowed on Pappas a Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the highest awards given each year “to a member of the society who has made a lasting contribution to the practice of medicine over a lifetime and who has made significant contributions to the goals of the society.” In 2011, he was awarded an honorary degree from UMMS for in recognition of his unparalleled leadership in the Worcester community and years of dedication to sports medicine, along with the numerous philanthropic contributions to the Medical School.

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Honorary degree recipients share the University’s values
Commencement 2011: Honoring Pappas (video tribute)