John W. (Jack) Lawrence and his wife, Joanne have a long personal association with Borgess Health. Jack served first as a trustee for the DeLano Clinic beginning in 1976 and joined the Borgess Medical Center (BMC) board in 1982. His service included a stint as Chairman of the BMC board from 1987-1991. He also devoted many years of service on the Borgess Foundation board, serving until 2008, and is a Trustee Emeritus. His wife Joanne has been an active member in the Borgess Service League and the Borgess Volunteer Services for over 20 years. Their daughter, Joni Knapper currently serves as Secretary on the Borgess Medical Center Board of Trustees. “Our personal family involvement at Borgess, including Joanne’s volunteer efforts and my time spent as a trustee of both the hospital and the foundation are all parts of my life that I cherish,” Jack says.
The Lawrence family has been connected to Borgess for nearly a century. Jack’s mother, Borgia was a lifetime member of the Borgess Service League. Her father, John Wheeler, founded Wheeler-Blaney and was the construction contractor for the original Borgess Hospital building on Gull Road. Borgia’s aunt, Sr. Mary Hastings was one of the Sisters of St. Joseph (SSJ) who founded Borgess Hospital in 1889.
“I had two great aunts in the Sisters of St Joseph,” Jack notes. “Emma Hastings joined the convent the day after the original SSJ’s came from Watertown, New York to staff the newly established Borgess Hospital,” Jack notes. “She chose the name of Sister Mary and is recognized as one of the founders of the order at Nazareth. She served there for over 75 years. Her younger sibling became Sister Edward and served the order for over 60 years.”
Jack’s father,William J. Lawrence, Sr., served on an unofficial advisory board for the hospital before his sudden death in 1941. Jack’s brother, the late William Lawrence, Jr., also had an over 50-year record of service with Borgess Medical Center and the Foundation. The Lawrence family made a generous gift to Borgess that helped establish the Lawrence Education Center, named in honor of Jack and Bill’s parents.
Most recently, the Lawrences responded with a gift to the Habitat for Healing campaign, designated toward the renovation and expansion of the Borgess Medical Center Level I Emergency & Trauma Center (ETC) and the construction of the new Borgess Gardens. “Since I was serving on the Borgess Foundation Board when the campaign was being developed, it seemed a natural move to become an active part of it,” Jack states.
“In the current economic climate, most of us will consider carefully where to place our contributions and support,” he adds. “Emergency care and long-term care are both vital services in our community. With our aging population and increased lifespan, there will be an ongoing need for quality services and facilities such as Borgess Gardens.” Joanne agrees, noting that it was important to have convenient, local access to elder care services for her own parents.
The Borgess Foundation is committed to assisting local projects that will help make comprehensive health care services accessible to everyone. Their continued close association with our mission reflects Jack and Joanne’s passion for helping others. “Borgess has always been a part of our family,” Joanne stresses. “I treasure the time I spend as a volunteer in the gift shop or working on projects such as the Tree of Love campaign. I have always been blessed to be able to interact with the Borgess staff, visitors and patients in many touching and memorable ways.”
As you consider your own plans to honor or recognize someone in your life, we hope you will explore the many wonderful opportunities to leave a family legacy. Call us at (269) 226.8100.