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Remarkable People

We are fortunate to have had remarkable people over the decades that shaped our history through their commitment to serving others through humankindness. Here are just three examples.

Carmen Giuffra

Carmen worked in the kitchen at Mark Twain Hospital for 33 years, beginning in 1977. In 2008, the hospital recognized her hard work and surprised her by naming the kitchen and cafeteria "Carmen's Cafe". Carmen had a love for feeding everyone, and a common phrase you would often hear was "Honey have you ate? Let me fix you a plate." She was known for her homemade enchiladas and soups. Carmen loved to spoil the doctors and staff with breakfast sandwiches and made sure there was always fresh coffee on. She loved working in the kitchen and always had a smile on, even after hours and hours on her feet. She liked to liven the place up a bit and play some Tom Jones, which everyone loved. She was very welcoming and warm to the staff and made the families of the patients feel at home. Carmen retired in 2010 and is now enjoying time with her family and friends. She enjoys reminiscing about her time in the kitchen and has many great memories she loves to share.

Dr. Dante Albasio

Dr. Dante Albasio was a driving force behind the original Mark Twain Hospital, which was built in 1951, and is remembered by friends and family members as the consummate country doctor. Dr. Albasio passed away at age 85 on September 2,1997, at his home in Angels Camp. He practiced medicine for 40 years at his Angels Camp office and served on the original medical staff at Mark Twain Hospital. The hospital's medical-surgical unit is named in honor of Dr. Albasio. He maintained his private practice in Angels Camp until retiring in 1987. Dr. Albasio came to Angels Camp shortly after leaving the Navy following World War II. While in the service, he was stationed aboard hospital ships assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps. After returning to the states, he moved to Gustine but soon afterward struck personal gold in the Mother Lode when he answered an advertisement for a local practice in Angels Camp.

Dr. Milton "Ben" Smith

Dr. Milton "Ben" Smith was a Renaissance man who combined a love of the outdoors, his dedication to community service and medicine to touch the lives of countless people. The former Calaveras County supervisor and chief of staff at Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital died at his home Tuesday, January 16, 2001. He was 87. Dr. Smith was born in Payette, Idaho, and grew up in Lodi and Stockton, the son of a minister who built congregations in both cities. Dr. Smith practiced in Fairfield for 16 years and served as mayor there before establishing a practice in Murphys, where he worked for 20 years. After he moved to Murphys, he won a seat on the county Board of Supervisors, served as the county's public-health director for two years and chaired the county's yearlong bicentennial celebration — all the while continuing his love affair with the outdoors. When Dr. Smith found out Columbia had no geology class, he volunteered to teach it and continued to teach for 12 years. He also served on Columbia College Foundation's board of directors during its early years.