Robert Morrison with his dog.
Most of us do not like to think about end-of-life planning. We view the act of writing a will to be a burdensome acknowledgement of our own mortality; a conversation we would prefer to put off for another day, if not indefinitely. But thoughtful end-of-life planning can also serve as a final gift for prosperity, a tactic to leave things better than we found them. A perfect example of this sentiment can be found in the Morrison Charitable Trust.
On November 8, 1964, Robert Foster Morrison, of Pineola, updated his handwritten, 14-page Last Will and Testament to include a trust that would fund the establishment of a local library and benefit the community hospitals in Avery County for years to come.
The Morrison Charitable Trust was created following Robert Morrison’s death in July 1968. Morrison specified three charitable beneficiaries: Cannon Memorial Hospital in Banner Elk, Garrett Memorial Hospital (later Sloop Memorial) in Crossnore (these two entities merged into the new Charles A. Cannon Jr. Memorial Hospital in 1999), and the future Avery County Morrison Library in Newland. Morrison further stipulated that the trust would distribute income annually to these organizations and terminate upon the 50th anniversary of his passing. The trust had an initial balance of $300,000.
In early October 2018, the Morrison Charitable Trust distributed its remaining assets to the beneficiaries. Cannon Memorial Hospital received $2,404,683.84. From 1968 to 2018, the Morrison Charitable Trust distributed more than $9 million to benefit the citizens of Avery County.
As with all charitable trusts, which function in a way like buried time capsules, it is important to remember that there is more than just financial treasure to be unearthed in this story. There is a legacy worth remembering.
Making history in the fast lane
In 1923, Howard Marmon from Indianapolis, IN, purchased a large tract of land in Avery County, which included parts of Pineola, Montezuma and Linville. He and his wife, Martha, longed to return to the clean mountain air that Howard credited for healing him from an early teenage bout with tuberculosis. Marmon made his fortune by establishing the Marmon Motor Car Company, and entertained some of the greatest minds of his day, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone at his Avery County estate, known as Hemlock Hedges.
The Marmon’s had no children and left a substantial portion of their assets, including the Hemlock Hedges estate to their nephew, Robert Morrison.
Morrison was an only child who grew up in Indianapolis and later split his time between his homes in New York City and Avery County. He is remembered by friends as a kind man with a selfless heart. He was well read and he appreciated the artistic beauty of the mountains.
Morrison’s will stipulated that his long-time friends Martha Guy — who was the owner of Avery County Bank, and local judge, J. Ray Braswell — serve as co-trustees for his charitable trust. Wachovia Bank and Trust Company, which was acquired by Wells Fargo, was named the trust’s institutional trustee.
“Bob (Robert Morrison) told me that he was not going to go through with the trust unless I agreed to serve as a trustee for it,” quipped Guy, with a reminiscent smile. “We became friends early on when he would stop by the bank. He was the type of guy that enjoyed giving to others and he never sought any recognition for it. He had a good giving streak in him; I was always impressed by the fact that despite all of his world travels, he left his money here in Avery County.”
After Judge Braswell died in 1996, the trust stipulated that an Avery County attorney must step in as his successor. At that time, Guy recommended that her friend, Kelly Johnson, a well-respected attorney and mediator, be selected for the position. Johnson graciously accepted and he has served in that capacity ever since.
“I really felt privileged to be selected as a trustee,” said Johnson. “Over the years, I have witnessed the trust make substantial contributions to both the library and to our community hospital. Improvements to the hospital have included everything from funding advanced technology and equipment to bringing in new medical providers. I think we can all say that it worked out well. And I want to be sure to give a tremendous amount of credit to Judge Braswell and Martha Guy for their good management of the trust.”
Making a better tomorrow
Cannon Memorial Hospital recently received a $6.5 million grant from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to expand the availability of behavioral health beds in Western North Carolina. Before the new behavioral health beds can be built, Cannon must relocate its medical beds to a new section in the hospital. Proceeds from the Morrison Charitable Trust’s final distribution will be used for this expense.
Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System commented further by saying, “None of this would be possible if it were not for the generous forethought of Mr. Robert Morrison. Thanks to his generosity, along with the careful trust fund management of Martha Guy, Judge Braswell and Kelly Johnson, these funds will be used to improve the lives of countless patients and their families for generations to come.”
To learn more about how you can also leave a legacy for the advancement of healthcare in the High Country, contact the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation at 828-262-9105, or visit apprhs.org/foundation.
The 45th Annual Grover C. Robbins, Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament was held at Elk River Club on Monday, September 11, 2017. The event raised more than $36,500 to benefit the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center. Sandi Cassidy, Director of Oncology Services, stated, “I cannot express the depth of my gratitude to everyone involved and for all the work that goes into making this incredible event so very special. Please accept my thanks to each and every one involved in making the 2017 Grover Robbins Golf Tournament a huge success.”
Despite the rainy weather brought on by Hurricane Irma, 20 well-spirited teams battled the elements. The first place team for lowest net score included Ed Hinson, Jack Hinson, Tony Golembesky and Jeff Dollar. Blue Ridge Energy sponsored the first place team for lowest gross score, which included Alan Merck, Scott Fogelman, Regan Sander and Randy Dula.
A legacy of helping our community
Since 1942, Spencer Robbins, co-founder of the Grover C. Robbins, Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament, has worked tirelessly to raise funds to support the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center. In total, the tournament has raised over a million dollars to help fight cancer in the High Country. In 2011, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System honored Mr. Robbins as its Lifetime Achievement Award Winner for his service and dedication to support quality healthcare in the High Country.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation (ARHF) would like to thank the following sponsors.
- Tournament Sponsor: Wells Fargo
- Signature Sponsors: First Citizens Bank, IH Services, INC., Medline, Paragon Revenue and Skyline Skybest.
- Eagle Level Sponsor: Criterion Healthcare
- Tee Sponsors: Alleghany Memorial Hospital Foundation, Allscripts, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Appalachian State University’s Beaver College of Health Sciences, Horizon CSA, Modern Automotive, Mountaineer Golf Center, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Ronald and Debra Parr, Peter and Joni Petschauer, T. Bragg McLeod, and WJ Office.
ARHF would also like to thank Elk River Club, Brian Newman, Toni Littleton and the entire Elk River Club staff, as well as the players who participated in the tournament.
For further information about the tournament, contact Addie Cardwell at 828-262-4391.
Pictured: Vickie Fuller, Angela Wilson, Pat Parks.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s 13th Annual Pretty in Pink event was held on June 16, 2017 at Linville Ridge Country Club. Nearly 200 women from the surrounding areas gathered for a luncheon and fashion show in support of providing free, first-time mammograms to uninsured women in Avery County. These funds directly impact the lives of women living in Avery County to help aid early breast cancer detection.
This year we were honored to have the following models participate in the Fashion Show: Kim Krege Florio, Julie Getty, Rob Getty, Marion Krege, Roy Krege, Trina McCoy, Tanion McCoy, Kariana Sanchez, Irene Sawyer, Dave Smith, Janet Streett and Lisa Townsend. Fashions were sponsored by Belk and modeled by individuals who have been touched by cancer. Our male and female models ranged from cancer survivors, to caregivers, and cancer nurses.
Kristen Walls was this year’s Pretty in Pink speaker. She shared her inspirational testimony about her battle with metastatic breast cancer. In her opening statement she said, “Everyone’s cancer story is unique. I suppose what we survivors do have in common is that we’ve all heard the words “you’ve got cancer” and we have all had to find our own way on our journeys towards healing.” Her journey, as she shared, had bumps in the road, some highs, and some lows, yet she related well to the women and gentleman of Pretty in Pink. Nods of agreement, laughs, and looks of concern were exchanged throughout the room; it created a sense of hope and unity that only the impacts of cancer can instill.
Pretty in Pink serves as a reminder to the High Country that cancer is a prevalent disease that touches many in the community either directly or indirectly. The focus of the event isn’t just to bring awareness; the main focus is to bring hope and encouragement to those in the community who are battling this trying disease.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation would like to thank everyone who came to the event, models, sponsors and donors. Without their continued and enthusiastic support, this tradition would not be what it is today.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (NCDHHS) has selected Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital (Cannon Hospital) in Avery County, North Carolina to receive a $6.5 million grant award, to expand the availability of behavioral health beds in the western region of North Carolina.
Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) commented on the grant award by saying, “we are extremely pleased to receive this grant from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. It will allow Cannon Hospital and ARHS to significantly impact the behavioral health crisis occurring in North Carolina.”
The funding for this grant originated from the Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund, which was created by the North Carolina General Assembly from the sale of Dorothea Dix Hospital in 2015. The Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund was established as a part of NCDHHS’s plan to expand the number of beds that provide crisis stabilization and inpatient behavioral health care. The plan calls for 150 new behavioral health inpatient beds across the state.
Behavioral Health demand increases
Over the last five years Cannon Hospital has experienced a drastic increase in the demand for behavioral health inpatient beds from across the region. In 2016 Cannon Hospital received over 5,000 psychiatric referrals, but was only able to admit 560 psychiatric patients. Additionally, in 2014 the US Health Resources and Services Administration reported that, “30 counties in North Carolina were designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas.” Avery County (where Cannon Hospital operates), was among those counties.
Currently Cannon Hospital operates as a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital and as a 10-bed behavioral health unit. Cannon Hospital also provides an emergency department, imaging, laboratory, outpatient behavioral health, a rehabilitation center, a surgery suite, and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation services. This full-service medical campus is the hub of healthcare delivery in Avery County.
Mantooth commented on the future of Cannon Hospital by saying, “I want to be clear that Cannon Hospital will continue to meet the medical needs of the community by operating as a Critical Access Hospital. These additional behavioral health beds afford us the opportunity to grow the medical campus at Cannon Hospital and to develop the rural hospital of the future model, which can be replicated across the country. These grant funds are a win for patients, our community, our healthcare system and the State of North Carolina.”
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System will host a public information session about this grant and the future of Cannon Hospital on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 5:30 pm at the Hugh Chapman Center in Linville, NC. The public is invited to attend.
On a cold Wednesday, January 4th, Blowing Rock Rehabilitation and Davant Extended Care Center (BRR DECC) patients moved into their new home in the Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge.
Command centers at both locations were in constant communication as each patient made the transition from the old facility to the new one. Foley Center staff members, who had been planning the move for the past 18 months, were also in contact with the patients’ families to keep them updated on the status of their loved ones. Each patient who came through the door was greeted by smiles and encouragement from Foley Center Administrator Nathan White and others.
Foley Center Administrator Nathan White greets Lennis Wilson, one of the first patients to arrive at The Foley Center. View more photos on our Facebook page.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) employees from other facilities and departments joined in to help in a variety of capacities. They welcomed patients to the new facility, carried boxes, prepared warming blankets for patients, called family members, and generally helped wherever they were needed. Despite the wind and cold, something high country residents are familiar with, the move went extremely smoothly. ARHS worked with CJ Medical Transportation to safely move patients, and the system is also grateful to Watauga Medics for their assistance.
The Foley Center was already fully equipped with new medical equipment, furniture, beds, wheelchairs, and televisions. The furniture and beds at the previous facility will be donated to several organizations, including local community colleges that have nursing programs.
Building a Continuum of Care in the High Country
The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge is a state-of-the-art post-acute care center located on a 68 acre tract of land alongside US 321 in Blowing Rock, NC. The facility enhances the region’s access to short- and long-term post-acute care for medical services. Designed with the patient in mind, the 112-bed healthcare facility will serve as a cost-saving alternative for patients healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital (post-acute), but not quite ready to safely return home. Residents and patients will benefit from on-site physicians, short and long-term care, skilled nursing, rehabilitation services, memory support, assisted living and palliative care. In addition, the Chestnut Ridge campus is home to the Harriet and Charles Davant, Jr., Medical Clinic and Boone Drug’s Village Pharmacy.
The Foley Center functions less like a hospital and more like a modern patient-centered neighborhood. Private and semi-private bedrooms, a rehabilitation gym, community dining areas and six living rooms—each equipped with breathtaking mountain views are just a few of the amenities residents can expect.
“The dedication and support of this community has been incredible. We are so thankful for the opportunity to continue our tradition of providing compassionate, quality patient care for the residents of the High Country through the new Blowing Rock Facility,” stated Rob Hudspeth, Senior Vice President for System Advancement. Major funding of this new facility was generously provided by the Foley family and other private donors.
The 44th Annual Grover C. Robbins, Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament was held at Grandfather Golf and Country Club on Tuesday, October 11, 2016. The event raised more than $31,000 to benefit the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center.
Sandi Cassidy, Director of Oncology Services, stated: “I cannot express the depth of my gratitude to everyone involved and for all the work that goes into making this incredible event so very special.”
Twenty-seven four-person teams participated in the Scramble event. The first place team for lowest net score included Chad Smith, Vernon Smith, Marvin Cameron and Chris Dauster. The first place team for lowest gross score included Jim Wood, Mark Gould, Rusty Edwards and Gorham Bradley.
Since 1942, Spencer Robbins, founder of the Grover C. Robbins, Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament, has worked tirelessly to raise funds to support the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center. In 2011, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System honored Spencer Robbins with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his service and dedication to support quality healthcare in the High Country.
“Spencer and his brother Harry were the first to step up and make a substantial commitment to healthcare in this community,” said Richard Sparks, President and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation (ARHF) would like to thank:
- Tournament sponsor: Wells Fargo
- Signature Sponsors: First Citizen’s Bank, IH Services, INC, Skyline Skybest and Paragon Revenue Group
- Eagle Level Sponsors: Criterion Healthcare and Med Assist
- Tee/Green Sponsors:, Greenleaf Services Inc., Mountaineer Golf Center, T. Bragg McLeod, Registry Partners Incorporated and Alleghany Memorial Hospital Foundation.
ARHF would also like to thank Grandfather Golf and Country Club, Chip King, Michael Reed and the entire Grandfather Golf and Country Club staff. Lastly, ARHF wishes to thank the players who participated in the tournament.
For more information about the tournament, contact Addie Cardwell at 828-262-4391.