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The Medical Center Foundation Dedicates Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden

Published on June 06, 2011
garden 1GAINESVILLE, Ga.— There’s a new feature gracing Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s (NGMC) North Patient Tower entrance.  The Medical Center Foundation held the reception dedication of the Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden Monday, June 6, on the hospital’s Gainesville campus.  Guests gathered to celebrate the completion of the new garden, made possible by a lead signature gift and maintenance endowment by Philip and Mary Hart Wilheit, Sr. and their family, Jeff and Hart Payne and Philip and Addie Wilheit, Jr.

The garden is named in memory of Philip and Mary Hart’s parents, Tom and Jane Eve Wilheit and Jack and Mildred Keys, who were known for their love of beautiful gardens and landscapes.

The Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden is the largest of five donor gardens planned for the NGMC campus and can be enjoyed from indoors or out as it spans 20,000 square feet across the North Patient Tower’s main concourse, connecting North Entrance 3 to the Dawn McKibbon Memorial Chapel. The garden includes a rainwater collection system and is an easily accessible destination for patients, families, visitors and staff seeking comfort and solace.  The garden was designed as a special outdoor retreat, where the sights, sounds and smells of the flowers, trees and water features can be enjoyed from the meandering path or one of the convenient seating areas.  Mary Hart Wilheit, who is known for her unique metal artistry, has sculpted several pieces on display throughout the garden, weaving art with nature.

“It was peace that Jane Eve and Tom Wilheit and Mildred and Jack Keys found in their respective gardens,” remarked Woody Stewart, chairman of The Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees, during the dedication reception. “Separated by states but joined by the marriage of their children, they found common ground in their love of nature.  They knew that the seeds of today are the flowers of tomorrow.  They planted those seeds in their gardens, and also in their children and grandchildren, who recognize the valuable role a garden plays in healing.  Thanks to the generosity of Philip and Mary Hart and their entire family, this Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden is indeed a place where those seeking peace may visit for years to come.  This garden would not be possible without donor support.”

Wilheit-Keys 2“Today’s dedication is special,” added Carol Burrell, Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) interim CEO and executive vice president/COO.  “It is special because of the beautiful addition the Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden brings to our community and because we are honoring the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of a family that has played such a key role in this organization - - - a family that has not only been generous through their donations to our Medical Center Foundation, but also through the contribution of thousands of hours in volunteer time to assure the continued success of this health system.”

The Wilheits have been longtime supporters of NGHS.  Philip Wilheit, Sr. served on the NGHS Board from 1986 – 2007, serving as its chair beginning in 1993; he continues to serve on the Board as chair emeritus.  Mary Hart Wilheit is a life member of The Medical Center Auxiliary and past chair of the Auxiliary’s annual fundraiser, Marketplace.  The Wilheits made a signature gift in 2004, along with the late Wilbur and Dixie Ramsey, to name the John A. Ferguson, Jr. Conference Room in honor of Ferguson’s 40 years of service as President and CEO of NGHS.

For more information about the Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden or other donor garden gift opportunities, please contact The Medical Center Foundation at 770-219-8099.

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