St. Mary's Hospital Foundation announced receipt of a donation of more than $1 million during a small ceremony held before their annual general meeting on June 11.
“We received an amazing gift in excess of $1 million donated from the estate of Donald Webster,” said foundation chair Maureen Clayton. “The foundation is currently in discussions with the executor to determine the optimum use of this wonderful gift to the hospital.”
Donations to the foundation can't be used for hospital administration costs, but the money could be used to optimize the current facility or to replace or upgrade hospital equipment.
Webster passed away at St. Mary's Hospital in 2010 at the age of 75, after a battle with cancer. It is guessed his time at St. Mary's with the caring staff influenced his decision to leave such a large portion of his estate to the hospital foundation, although the actual reason is unknown.
“His nephew was saying ‘I guess he had enough time to be looking around the hospital going ‘this place needs renovation.' It was quite funny,'” Clayton said of her discussion with Webster's family.
Webster's nephew Doug Keller told Coast Reporter that he didn't really know why his uncle left so much money to the hospital, noting he led a quiet and private life.
“He was always polite and sociable and had a good sense of humour. He had traditional values and manners, but always made people feel welcome,” Keller said.
Webster retired to the Sunshine Coast after 33 years of working for Canadian Pacific Airlines and was a resident of Sechelt for 24 years.
He was often seen checking the Globe and Mail at the Sechelt Public Library and some think he did well in the stock market.
Keller said Webster was careful with his money, buying a waterfront home in Sechelt around 1986. The value of that home made up the majority of his estate, which was largely left to the hospital foundation.
Although Webster passed away in 2010 it took until now for the home to sell and the paperwork for the donation to be completed.
Clayton got visibly emotional when announcing the generous donation June 11.
“I get a little choked because of the generosity of this community … I need to say thank you to Donald Webster and thank you to the staff of St. Mary's Hospital who have made this absolutely wonderful gift possible,” she said, explaining the care Webster received likely solidified his desire to give to the foundation. “We believe it is people who make the difference and a combination of skill, expertise and caring in a time of need encourages us to give.”