In a very real sense, RMH owes its existence to Harrisonburg businessman William Glodomore Leake. In 1908, Mr. Leake left the bulk of his estate to establish a new hospital in Harrisonburg after he had to travel to Charlottesville for care. His gift along with funds raised from the community provided for the construction of the original hospital that opened on October 1, 1912.
So during this Centennial year, it was fitting that RMH paid tribute to this generous man by visiting his gravesite. On Friday afternoon, Oct. 19, about 30 persons representing the hospital traveled to the remote Leake family cemetery located in Albemarle County about 10 miles south of Charlottesville. The half-hour ceremony included comments by RMH President Jim Krauss and RMH Board of Directors Chair Ann Homan, special music by local musician John Hull, a prayer by RMH Volunteer Chaplain Auburn Boyers and the laying of a wreath at Mr. Leake's tombstone by Edward A. Leake Jr., a first cousin three times removed of William Glodomore Leake.
It was appropriate that the 3 p.m. ceremony was held on Oct. 19; it was on that same date that Mr. Leake died 104 years ago in Harrisonburg.
- The wreath laid at Mr. Leake's tombstone hides the inscription that reads: "He devoted his life to honest work, and his wealth to relieve human suffering. The Rockingham Memorial Hospital is his monument."
- RMH President Jim Krauss began his comments to the assembled group with these words: "In October of 1908, upon Mr. Leake's passing, the Harrisonburg Town Council appointed a delegation to accompany his body to this spot. Likewise, we are a delegation today representing the tens of thousands of people who have benefited from his generosity and kindness"”and to honor and remember his life that resulted in the founding of Rockingham Memorial Hospital."
- John Hull sings "Oh Shenandoah," one of four musical selections during the ceremony.
- Edward A. Leake Jr. relates the history of the Leake family in Eastern Virginia. At the end of the Revolutionary War, William Leake's grandfather, Mask Leake, was present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis to General George Washington at Yorktown, Va. During the Civil War, William Leake served in the Confederate Army with Turner's Virginia Light Artillery.
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