Monday, March 24, 2008

A Hospital as a Legacy

If you haven’t seen the 2003 movie Seabiscuit, you really should. It is a wonderful true story about a plunky horse that during the Great Depression captivated a nation that was looking for come from behind stories.

The owner of Seabiscuit was Charles Howard, probably the most successful Buick salesman of all time who made a fortune selling cars in San Francisco. In the 1920s he purchased the 16,000 acre Ridgewood Ranch just south of Willits, CA (population 5,073) where Seabiscuit was trained. My wife and I stayed in Willits in our jaunt around northern California.

In the movie the death of Howard’s son Frankie is shown. Tragically, Frankie died in a truck accident on the ranch and died enroute by train to the closest hospital. Howard vowed that the lack of medical care would not happen again in Willits and built the Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits as a tribute to his son.

While Seabiscuit is long gone, Charles Howard’s hospital is today a wonderful institution in a small town.

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