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There’s nothing like a surprise party to mark decades of commitment to a job you love!
The Baxter Health Foundation turned on the sparkling lights, thew on some tuxedoes and evening gowns, and rolled out the red carpet for Baxter Health’s very own Barney Larry at the Foundation’s “The Last Ask” event last Friday evening.
The event took the place of the Foundation’s usual yearly ball, and was attended by members of the Baxter Health Foundation, the Yellow Army, Baxter Health, local city and county officials and more. Over 250 people were in attendance.
The evening featured dinner, cocktails and an auction.
“The Foundation usually hosts a ball annually,” said Sarah Edwards, executive director for the Baxter Health Foundation. “Instead of doing a masquerade ball, we wanted to honor him since he just retired in December from the Foundation.”
While Larry was pleasantly surprised by the event, he was in for another shock for the night after Edwards and members of Baxter Health’s Yellow Army announced the creation of the Barney Larry Endowment, which will focus on raising money for future hospital projects.
Larry’s new endowment was awarded a $25,000 check by the Baxter Health Auxiliary. By the end of the night, a total of $163,000 was raised for the endowment thanks to private donations and the events auction.
Edwards said the endowment rose to $170,000 over the weekend.
“Our plan is to continue to grow that endowment,” Edwards said. “We wanted to honor him in such a way, where his name would live on in perpetuity in the Foundation. He knew we were up to something, but he was very surprised by the announcement that an endowment was going to be created and named after him.”
Established in 1988, the Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation, under John Shutnick, got its start by helping raise $1 million in funds for Baxter Health’s cancer unit.
At the time, the hospital complex was at its peak, bringing in steady profits. But as the years rolled on, the healthcare industry changed, making profit margins smaller for rural hospitals.
With margins slimming, Baxter Health began looking to its hospital foundation in 2000 to help raise money for the hospital’s major projects and programs. To help jump-start the foundation, Baxter Health reached out to Larry, who had just retired as executive vice president for Arkansas and Southern Missouri with the Bank of America.
The grandson of a Baptist preacher, Larry has had a long and unique career. He first began his career as a minister of music at First Baptist Church before transitioning to the banking industry.
He said his grandfather instilled a drive in him that allowed him to quickly rise the ranks in the industry before finally earning his position of executive vice president at Bank of America.
And while he had initially planned on retiring after his tenure as an executive, he couldn’t resist the call to put in a few more years of work at the Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation.
But those couple of years quickly turned into a 23-year legacy as Larry fell in love with his role at the foundation.
Under his leadership, Larry and the foundation’s 24 board members quickly set up a yearly fund drive that helped to fund the foundation’s three main funds: the annual fund to cover operational costs, the annual gifts fund to cover capital projects, and a plan giving fund that covered deferred donations to the hospital foundation.
Altogether, the foundation has raised more than $35 million since 2000, with the hospital receiving $27 million of those donations. The foundation currently sits on a comfortable war chest of $20 million with an additional $21 million in deferred donations.
The hospital foundation has helped create several scholarships to assist local students in obtaining a college career and a job in the medical industry. Some of these scholarships include the Kerr Medical Student Scholarship, which covers tuition for students, the Austino Scholarship, which covers school expenses; and the Anderson Downes Scholarship, which covers the expenses of students seeking to become nurses or paramedics.
The Baker Nursing Education Scholarship also covers educational expenses for students pursuing LPN, RN, or BSN degrees.
The hospital foundation has helped complete several renovations and expansion projects at Baxter Health, including the most recent renovation of Baxter Health Auxiliary 5 South Surgical Services, which added six new patient rooms and an expanded waiting room features a dedicated sunroom and “living wall” to the unit.
The foundation has also helped renovate 3 East, 2 West, the hospital’s Cardiac Rehab Center, the Emergency Center, and the Women’s and Newborn Center.
The hospital’s Simulation Lab, where Mountain Home High School students get hands-on medical experience to jump-start their college careers, received funding from the foundation.
With 23 years under his belt, Larry has firmly cemented his legacy at Baxter Health and the Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation. Now in his 70s, Larry is headed for the golf course and some well-deserved relaxation.
Larry was officially replaced by Edwards in Dec. of last year. Edwards is a Mountain Home native and graduate from Mountain Home High School. She began her career at Baxter Health in 2015 as a physician recruiter. In 2018, she began working with Larry after taking a position as the director of business development. She became the vice president of major gifts in 2018, and would work directly for Larry until his retirement in Dec.