Wingham man retires after over 40 years of volunteerism - June 21, 2018
BY NICOLE DUQUETTE
After 42 years of loyal involvement, Gord Baxter, the long-time treasurer of the Wingham & District Hospital Foundation, is set to retire from the Board of Directors on June 19. Gord has given thousands of hours of volunteer time and helped raise over $7 million in support of the Wingham & District Hospital.
Gord began his journey with the Wingham & District Hospital Foundation as an employee working in the hospital’s finance department. The foundation came into existence in 1976 as an arms-length account held by the hospital. It was originally created to hold “extra-billing” funds which the provincial government then allowed individual hospitals to retain and manage.
The foundation began to look more like the organization it is today in 1986. At that time, a change to provincial legislation altered the management of “extra-billing” funds and required hospitals and foundations to be separate entities. Gord was then Director of Finance. He, along with Hospital Chair Norman Hayes, worried they might lose foundation funds because of the provincial changes. To protect the funds, they decided to federally incorporate the Wingham & District Hospital Foundation.
Gord continued to work closely with the foundation over the next 32 years raising funds for medical equipment and upgrades for the hospital. For the majority of that time he served as treasurer. Gord has been through many milestones with the foundation: the fundraising efforts for a new ER in the mid-1980s, hiring the first staff person, helping establish the CKNX Healthcare Heroes Radiothon and the Our Hospital, Our Future campaign. He has been invaluable in raising over $7 million for the hospital.
Throughout his years of service, Gord has worked with many hospital and foundation staff and volunteers and community members. A few have words to share on the occasion of his well-deserved retirement from the foundation: “I have worked with Gord for 40 years. He has been active in every facet of health care during this time. The hospital administration, the hospital foundation, doctor recruitment and more recently with the family health network of physicians. He has often worked quietly in the background but always for the good of community health care as a whole. The entire medical staff congratulates Gord on his retirement from the hospital foundation board.” – Dr. Marie Gear M.D.
“I must say that it has been an honour and privilege to have worked alongside Gord Baxter. Gord has always put the best interest of the foundation and hospital forefront in anything that he has done. He has always guided the rest of the board in the best direction. The money our community has generously entrusted to the foundation, Gord has worked hard to make sure it goes as far as possible in order to do the utmost good for the Hospital community. We on the Wingham & District Hospital Foundation will truly miss Gord’s wisdom, but I know that he is only a phone call away. it is a privilege to be able to say that I know Gord Baxter.” – Ian Montgomery, WDH Foundation Board Chair.
“ I have worked with Gord on the foundation for a number of years. During my term as chairman, his unending support and vast experience with hospital operations were invaluable in assisting me perform my duties. The board will deeply miss the significant effort Gord has made over the past several years. We wish Gord good health and happiness in the coming years.” – Russ Taylor, WDH Foundation Past Chair.
“Gord Baxter has served the health care community of Wingham and area as both a dedicated employee and volunteer. When I first started working for Listowel Wingham Hospital Alliance (LWHA), it was difficult to believe that Gord was no longer working as the Director of Finance as he was regularly found dealing with financial matters on behalf of numerous organizations and groups. The foundation, Recruitment Committee and Family Health Network have all benefited from Gord’s dedication and financial expertise. As a long-standing member of the community, Gord could always be relied upon to provide a contact or obtain the community’s input on local health issues. While we will miss him, his retirement from service to health care is well deserved.” – Karl Ellis, LWHA CEO.
“Gord donated time and financial wisdom for 40 years, he always found a way to get the most needed equipment for the hospital and patients. I have many additional personal reasons to thank him for his support and professionalism. Best wishes for a healthy and happy retirement.” – Liz Phelan, former LWHA CEO (2010).
“I first worked with Gord on the hospital board in the late 1980s and then later on the foundation. He always held the view that the hospital played a large role in our town and broader community. Our key to success was the foresight of strong people like Mr. Baxter which has well served the health of our community. Mr. Baxter gave his financial wisdom and efforts voluntarily throughout the years and is a friend I hold in the highest regard. Job well done and thank you for your commitment. Happy retirement!” – Mary Lou Cameron, former LWHA & Foundation board member.
“Gord’s is the most frequent face I see in the foundation office. He’s endlessly patient as I muddle through the finances and has answers to every question. I’ll miss Gord’s comforting presence, but can’t think of anyone more deserving of retirement. Thanks for everything!” – Nicole Jutzi, WDH Foundation Admin. & Development Officer.
“Gord has been the trusted man with the figures. The foundation and Doctor Recruitment Committee are going to miss his dedication. Gord has always had a smile and the right attitude.” – Verna Steffler, Wingham & Area Health Professionals Recruitment Committee Chair.
“Gord has been linked forever with the hospital, the hospital board and the hospital foundation. His fountain of knowledge and expertise is irreplaceable. Your creative contributions will never be forgotten. Enjoy retirement.” – Ross Davies, WDH Foundation lawyer at Crawford, Mill & Davies.
“When I first began working at the foundation, Gord was the go-to for almost everything. His attention to detail and his passion for all things healthcare will be greatly missed. Wishing you and Ruth all the best in your retirement.” – Emilie Lammie, WDH Foundation Co-ordinator 2009-2012.
Gord’s dedication to supporting the hospital’s need for up-to-date equipment and facilities has never wavered. His financial expertise, wealth of knowledge and ongoing advocacy has been instrumental in developing the Wingham & District Hospital Foundation into the well-managed, financially stable, committed organization it is today.
Volunteers like Gord are as valuable as they are rare. Our local hospital would not be the same today without his contributions. While he is leaving some very large shoes to fill, and will be greatly missed, he is being sent into his retirement with nothing but the most heartfelt thanks.