1925 - 1990
In 1969, Nelson Ira Pendergast, a World War II Navy veteran, was a patient at the Veterans Administration Center Hospital in Albany, New York.
Pendergast discovered the game of cribbage and became convinced the game had great value as therapy. He began promoting cribbage as a means of improving patient morale.
Cribbage playing in the VA Hospital was a random activity. But interest in the game grew as Pendergast spent more and more time promoting cribbage. In 1979 he sponsored the first cribbage tournament held at the Albany VA Hospital and in 1983 he formed the VA Medical Center Cribbage Association.
In 1989 the Albany (NY) American Legion Post recognized the former 3 year Navy Seaman Gunner for his cribbage therapy activities at the local VA facility.
Since 1979, Pendergast held more than 2,000 cribbage tournaments for VA Hospital patients, expending more than 40,000 volunteer hours in this effort. Prior to his death, Pendergast stated: "I will never leave the VA Hospital...my body and mind have left, but my heart is always there.
Pendergast was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.