Donor Stories

Bruce Braden

When he was diagnosed with diabetes more than 30 years ago, Bruce Braden was referred to Marin endocrinologist Dr. Linda Gaudiani to oversee his treatment. At the time, Marin General Hospital (MGH) had a multi-faceted program for those hospitalized with diabetes and hyperglycemia, but it lacked a robust outpatient program to offer preventive care, education, and self-management strategies to patients after discharge.

As Braden, an oil and gas entrepreneur and current Marin General Hospital Foundation (MGHF) Board Member, got his diabetes under control with the help of Dr. Gaudiani, he also worked with her to develop the business plan for what is now MGH’s Braden Diabetes Center. Today, the American Diabetes Association-approved Center offers one-on-one and group training for those bridging the gap between hospital discharge and self-care at home. It also serves as a powerful resource for Marin primary care physicians who have patients living with diabetes.

Recently, Braden notified MGHF that he has planned a $21 million bequest—the largest in Hospital history—to support Marin General Hospital. The majority of the bequest, $15 million, will help fund MGH’s capital campaign, Building Better Health, for construction and outfitting of the new Hospital, which will feature 260,000 square feet of new space and 171 private rooms. Another $3 million is to support the Braden Diabetes Center and the remaining $3 million is unrestricted so the funds can be used for MGH’s greatest future needs. “I like things that have ripple effects,” Braden said. “I like to see something local that I can be involved with, and see the benefit of it throughout the community.”

MGH Chief Executive Officer, Lee Domanico, is very grateful for every gift made to Marin General Hospital Foundation and acknowledged that “a $21 million bequest for a community hospital is unheard of.” He underscored that planned gifts like Braden’s have truly monumental potential to improve lives, from patients with diabetes today to others with chronic illness tomorrow. “A legacy gift will ensure our ability to provide the very best leading-edge care for years to come in our community,” Domanico said.

MGHF Board Chair Andrea Schultz added, “With Bruce’s extraordinary generosity and the support of other community members, Marin General Hospital caregivers can continue to deliver the highest quality of care in the North Bay.”

Donald W. Davis

Donald W. Davis served in World War II, survived a life-threatening illness during his time in the Army, earned two military service medals, and had a successful civilian career in investment management. But his accomplishments didn’t end there—he also left a lasting legacy of health for Marin by naming Marin General Hospital Foundation (MGHF) as a beneficiary in his will.

“I am fortunate to be able to give back to the hospital that provides wonderful care for our community,” Don said.

A California native, Don earned the money to attend UC Berkeley by working in orchards and vineyards. In college he joined the ROTC, becoming a Cadet Colonel by graduation. While in the Army, he specialized in automotive maintenance and driving, doing everything from fixing broken cars and commanding 300 men in Germany to informing troops of the most important news during the war. Of his WWII service, Don said, “I saw the power of patriotism and the value of Americans unifying as citizens in times of need. When we come together, we can do incredible things.”

He continued to serve in the Army Reserve through the Korean War, ultimately achieving the rank of Major. After his discharge, Don worked as a manager for Cadillac and then as a stock broker for his father’s company. He eventually started Davis-Skaggs Investment Management with his brother, where he assembled a team of financial professionals and enjoyed mentoring employees.

Always a believer in being an active citizen in the community, Don served as a city council member and as Mayor of Belvedere. He also created the Belvedere Community Foundation to fund local programs. His late wife, Leona Davis, initially connected Don with Marin General Hospital when she was part of the 1950s volunteer group called the “Pink Ladies.” Ever since then, Don was a regular donor to the Hospital.

Don passed away in October of 2017 at the age of 96. His three children, five nieces and nephews, eight grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren will fondly remember his passion for sailing, painting, traveling, community, and family.

When asked prior to his passing why he felt it was important to make MGHF a part of his legacy, Don said, “I want to ensure excellent care is available close to home for our community in the future.” We sincerely thank Don for his generosity in making such a forward-thinking gesture.

Sharon Early

Sharon Early has always prioritized giving back to the community where she lives and works. A Marin County resident since the 1960s, Sharon has supported many nonprofits from educational foundations and scholarship funds to youth sports associations and her local church.

“Giving back to our community,” Sharon says, “just feels like the right thing to do. It’s wise to give serious thought to what you personally feel is important and consistent with your values, and identify charities that can benefit from your financial support.”

Healthcare related causes are also important to Sharon. The importance of having excellent healthcare close to home became even clearer when family members needed care at Marin General Hospital. “That’s why I made my first donation to Marin General Hospital Foundation (MGHF) in 2009,” she recalls. “I wanted to honor the outstanding cardiac and cancer care received by my husband, John Early, and my father, Bill Haynes.”

Since then, Sharon has become an integral part of the Hospital’s philanthropic activities, serving on the Marin General Hospital Foundation Board and as a Cabinet Member for the Building Better Health capital campaign. “We have become a leading-edge community Hospital that attracts the best and the brightest, keeping us at the top in terms of outcomes,” Sharon says. “My family has always felt that the care provided here in the county by the Hospital-affiliated doctors, surgeons, nurses, and staff has been excellent. I am very proud of how the Hospital is positioned for the future.”

It’s that vision for Marin General Hospital’s future that prompted Sharon to make the Hospital a part of her own personal legacy with a gift from her IRA. “It was an easy decision. MGHF will receive the full benefit of my traditional IRA at my passing and will be able to put it to good work immediately. My family is financially independent and contributing to their own retirement plans. It felt very natural to plan a gift to Marin General Hospital Foundation, specifically to Marin General Hospital’s Cancer Institute. I hope that gifts such as this will be instrumental in saving lives and providing leading-edge treatment through new technologies,” Sharon says.

If you share Sharon’s passion for maintaining superb local healthcare in Marin, there are many ways to make an impactful gift to MGHF. Learn more about giving both in the future and this year in light of new tax legislation.

Jim Paullin

Since retiring from a 30-year career in the insurance business, Jim Paullin has devoted almost three more decades to volunteering at Marin General Hospital. From his 20 years in the outpatient surgery center greeting patients and families, to running a monthly bake sale where he contributes his highly sought-after homemade pies, Jim has happily volunteered “wherever they need me.” He even dresses up as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, much to the delight of children and hospital staffers.

In addition to his more than 11,000 hours of volunteer time, Jim has given to Marin General Hospital in many other ways—he has helped to fund scholarships for teen volunteers, donated to the Clothes Closet, which provides new clothing to patients who need it at the time of discharge, and handed out Halloween candy every year to nurses and staff. “As long as I can, I want to continue volunteering and helping people.”

Jim has also included a gift to Marin General Hospital Foundation in his estate plans. “All the years I’ve been at Marin General Hospital, I’ve seen the good work they do and what it takes to do that,” Jim explained. “I hope my gift will help the Hospital keep up with new technology as well as hire the best doctors and staff possible for our community. When I attend the Legacy Circle events and meet the other members, I see the impact our collective giving can have. And it makes me glad that I can help, too.”

Mara Perez

When you talk with Mara Perez, a Marin General Hospital (MGH) Board Member, it is clear that philanthropy is one of her passions. Growing up in Argentina, Mara learned the importance of giving to others from her parents. “From a very young age, I saw my parents serving our community,” Mara said. “They believed we can build a better world if we think about others. I have always lived by that principle.”

As a Board member since 2010, and through her membership in the Legacy Circle in addition to four other committees, Mara will continue to impact the Marin community in the future through her volunteer work. Mara and her husband, Michael, have lived in Marin County for 20 years, and they strongly believe Marin General Hospital is a community treasure. They intend to support it for years to come.

Mara earned her master’s in Latin American Studies and her doctorate in Sociology, both from The University of Chicago, before establishing her consulting firm in 1998. She helps nonprofits create strategic plans, conduct research, write concept papers, and issue briefs. In 2015, Mara launched Latino Futures, a think tank project designed to formulate innovative approaches to building socio-economic prosperity in the Latino community and, in turn, help build a stronger nation now and in the future, as the U.S. population’s composition continues to change, and the Latino population grows across the country.

For Mara, thinking big, giving back, and serving others comes naturally. That may be one reason why when Lee Domanico, MGH Chief Executive Officer, asked Mara to serve on the MGH Board, Mara didn’t hesitate to accept. “I strongly believe MGH plays a very important role in our community,” Mara explained. In her view, MGH is a leading provider of health, and is dedicated to delivering excellent care to its patients. She added, “It is inspiring to see the efforts everyone makes to provide the best care and service, each and every time.”

“In addition to our annual donations, my husband and I decided to make a legacy gift to MGH through our trust to support the hospital in a range of meaningful ways,” Mara continued. They hope others will consider contributing to the future of the hospital.

MGH Foundation is grateful for Mara’s generosity and thoughtful service to our community. Like her parents, she is building a better world by giving back.

Annette Perry

In her 37 years of volunteering with Marin General Hospital (MGH), Annette Perry logged 21,531 volunteer hours, spending her time in the Emergency Department (ED) and with the Friendship Fundraising Branch. Annette often wore a pedometer while volunteering, and could reach as many as five miles per shift!

But it wasn’t the exercise that motivated Annette the most, it was the people: “I enjoyed working with all the wonderful physicians, nurses, and staff,” Annette says. “My passion is helping people. I wanted to make a difference and give patients someone to talk to.”

“Annette was an integral part of the ED family as a volunteer,” says Michelle Tracy, Director of MGH’s Emergency and Trauma Services. “Patients and families came to know her smile and caring nature. She always had kind words to say to brighten your day and a warm blanket to make a person’s stay more bearable. She touched so many lives. When Annette was here, we knew that our day was going to be a good one.”

This spirit of service and desire to connect with others has followed Annette through her professional and personal life. Annette grew up in Nebraska, worked in San Francisco at Fort Mason and in the Presidio, and served in the Navy for three years as a chief yeoman non-commissioned officer. She and late husband Howard “Ray” Perry—who served in the Army—settled in Marin in the 1947 and had four children.

Annette volunteered for the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, and worked with the PTA—receiving their “Lifetime Achievement Award.” After her kids left for college, Annette earned her Bachelor’s degree (graduated summa cum laude) and Master’s degree in education at San Francisco State University. It was after a personal experience as a patient at Marin General Hospital that she first decided to volunteer in the Emergency Department in 1979. In addition to volunteering and training other hospital volunteers, Annette has made contributions to Marin General Hospital in other valuable ways over the years. Her first outright gift to support the hospital was in 1987. She then decided to include Marin General Hospital in her estate plan through a living trust. This allows Annette to both take care of her family’s needs and support the hospital in the future. Annette also made a recent gift to help fund Marin General Hospital’s new facility, MGH 2.0, following its groundbreaking ceremony in July 2016.

Marin General Hospital is thankful that Annette supports the hospital and volunteered her time with patients for so many years. Regina Thomas, Manager of Volunteer Services, says of Annette, ”She’s wonderful and such a great volunteer. She truly is 95 years young!”

Though she’s now officially a “retired volunteer” and won’t continue to log mileage in the hospital hallways, Annette says, “I’m looking forward to remaining connected with Marin General Hospital and others who support it through Legacy Circle activities.”

Hank Simmonds, MD

“Sixteen tons of babies” aptly describes the number of lives Dr. Harris (“Hank”) Simmonds helped bring into the world during the 45 years he has been affiliated with Marin General Hospital (MGH). During that time, the OB/GYN spent many days and nights helping countless patients at the Hospital and in his private practice. After earning his medical degree at UCLA, he arrived in Marin in 1971, eventually becoming MGH’s Chief of Staff.

But Dr. Simmonds does not see his role with MGH as purely clinical: “Marin General has been and continues to be a big part of my life,” he says. “It is a place I am very proud of.” He has served on committees through the years, contributed to fundraisers, and was elected to the Marin Healthcare District Board of Directors in 2008 after his retirement two years prior.

Now Vice-Chair of the District Board, he has decided to include MGH as a part of his legacy by making a bequest to Marin General Hospital Foundation in his will. Dr. Simmonds recalls all the recent changes at the Hospital and what they will mean for the future. What was once a “big hole in the ground,” and then a “huge project underway,” will become a “new, state-of-the-art, seismically safe hospital and healing place to serve this community for many years to come. It will be a magnificent asset to the county and to those who use it,” he says.

Gifts from Dr. Simmonds and others who care about Marin General Hospital’s role in the future of local healthcare will help make this vision a reality.

David and Marcia Sperling

When David and Marcia Sperling moved from Pittsburgh to Marin County in the early 1970s, they did not anticipate the important role Marin General Hospital (MGH) would play in their lives. “Marin General Hospital has had a major impact on us since I started practicing cardiology in 1975. We have witnessed dramatic growth and progress in our cardiac services over the past four decades and are pleased to see that the hospital and many of its programs have received numerous national awards and the recognition which it has earned.”

Recently retired, Dr. Sperling’s accomplished career in Marin County has spanned more than 40 years. He was instrumental in the development and fundraising for the cardiac catheterization lab, the coronary interventional program, and cardiac surgical services, and he was the director of the Haynes Cardiovascular Institute for the past 10 years. He served three terms on the Board of Marin General Hospital Foundation (MGHF) and was an active member of the capital campaign in its effort to raise funds for our new Hospital.

The Sperlings have been advocates and have made fundraising for MGH a priority for many years, helping to raise many significant contributions. “We first gave to Marin General Hospital to support the development of the cardiac cath lab in 1985, then the new West Wing in 1987, the cardiac surgical program in 1989, and the establishment of the electrophysiology service in 2000,” noted Dr. Sperling. Marcia has served on almost every gala and golf committee over the past three decades. “Sooner or later most everyone in Marin County will require medical services, so we have offered our ongoing support to ensure that the very best care would be available close to home,” Marcia added.

With their retirement, the Sperlings decided to make a gift to MGHF in their estate plan. “Our gift is given to provide funding for what we believe is the most important institution in Marin County, which touches the lives of nearly all Marin residents at some point. We want Marin General Hospital to have the latest equipment and educational services made available for our professional and support staff,” Dr. Sperling stated. “We believe that our commitment to Marin General Hospital represents a personal connection to members of our community who share a common goal—to preserve the well-being of MGH far into the future.”

Marcia commented, “We want to be certain that our children, grandchildren, and members of our community receive the best care possible, and we hope to be remembered as having served a meaningful role in the MGH family.”

Marin General Hospital Foundation is honored to welcome Marcia and David Sperling into the Legacy Circle, a select group of people who have included gifts to MGHF in their estate plans. Thanks to the generosity of the Sperlings and others, Marin General Hospital will be able to continue its tradition of excellence.

Barbara Ward

In 1998, after a regular check-up, I received a diagnosis of breast cancer. Drs. Bobbie Head and Francine Halberg and their staff treated me with such kindness and compassion. consequently, I decided to make a gift to the Breast Health Program at Marin General Hospital (MGH) that same year. When I received a second breast cancer diagnosis in 2009, I once again received excellent care from the physicians and staff at Marin General Hospital. They were able to care for me using the most advanced treatments and state-of-the-art technology. I felt compelled to support the Breast Health Program at MGH with another gift for the extraordinary care I received.

Although my family and I were long-time, grateful patients of Marin General Hospital and, in particular, of Dr. Brian Strunk at the Haynes Cardiovascular Institute, we wanted to continue to give back to the Hospital in other ways. My late husband, Roy, became a Foundation board member in 2010, and I became involved over the years on many Foundation committees. Most recently, I was on the major gifts committee to help raise money for our new Hospital through our Building Better Health Campaign. And last year, I made the decision to support Marin General Hospital with a legacy gift via my will so that I can ensure the Hospital continues to serve the needs of the community for years to come. I look forward to being a part of the Legacy Circle and sharing with others in our community about this valuable institution in our backyard.


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