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The Medical Center Foundation Dedicates The Pope Family Garden

Published on October 29, 2013

Visitors at Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) can now find respite in the Pope Family Garden, which was dedicated this week.  The therapeutic space was made possible through a generous signature gift to The Medical Center Foundation by Richard & Lona Pope and their family – given to honor their family’s continued commitment to volunteerism for the benefit of patients, families and staff at NGMC, and in memory of the late Ralph and Ocie Pope.

The garden is intimately situated in the South Tower off the main lobby of the Women & Children’s Pavilion.  The outdoor reprieve is available for expectant parents, siblings and family anxiously awaiting the arrival of a newborn child.  In addition, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy in the Infusion Center have the terrarium landscape to gaze upon during their often long treatments.

The family-focused garden welcomes children and adults alike with something for visitors of all ages to enjoy and see.  Hammered metal sculptures by Atlanta artist Martin Dawe include frogs, salamanders, butterflies and a personalized focal point – Jackson, the Pope family bulldog puppy, with his friend ‘Myrtle the Turtle,’ named by grandchildren Patrick and Chandler.  Children’s tables and chairs, as well as bench seating and rockers, provide a place to sit and admire unique plantings.  A stunning water feature of sculpted water lilies, commissioned by Atlanta artist Andrew Crawford, utilizes reclaimed water, and patients with rooms overlooking the space from five floors above catch glimpses of prisms during the day and a tree-lit garden at night. 

Since 1950, the Ralph and Ocie Pope family has had a long history of improving the level of medical care in our community.  The late Ralph and “Miss Ocie,” as she was affectionately known, gave of their time, talents and resources through volunteerism.  As devoted community leaders, Ralph served on the Hospital Authority of Gainesville and Hall County, and Miss Ocie was the founder of the Hall School of Nursing, which later became Brenau University Nursing School.  She also served as Interim Administrator of Hall County Hospital and was instrumental in founding The Medical Center Auxiliary, where their only son, Richard, continued his mother’s legacy by serving as treasurer.  Today, the tradition of service continues with Richard and Lona’s commitment as lifetime members of the Auxiliary and trustees of The Medical Center Foundation.   

“Miss Ocie and Mr. Ralph Pope were very service-minded,” says Jim Moore, chairman of The Medical Center Foundation.  “They set a high standard, and Richard, Lona and their family are building on their legacy by the examples they are setting for their children and grandchildren through their continued support of NGMC as well as the community.”

“The Ocie Rich Pope Building on the medical center campus is named for her long-time service, leadership and practice of outstanding nursing care,” says Nancy Colston, executive director of The Medical Center Foundation.  “To this day, nurses once mentored by Miss Ocie express how thankful they are for her leadership and willingness to take them under her wing.  The Pope Family is a large part of the hospital’s heritage, and Northeast Georgia Health System is the great organization it is today because of those who served before us.  We are grateful for Richard and Lona’s generosity to establish a wonderful therapeutic space that would not otherwise be possible.  They have created a special legacy that will serve patients, their families and staff for generations to come.” 

To learn more about The Pope Family Garden or The Medical Center Foundation, please call 770-219-8099 or visit

Pictured: The Pope Family

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