"I want to make it clear that this contribution is completely unsolicited. It is a free will offering. All I ask is that you people in the Hamburg area get on the band wagon and make things go, and properly." With those words, George C. Grape, a Hamburg Iowa native and son of Hamburg pioneers, inspired a town to build its own hospital.
In December of 1964, Mr. Grape approached the town of Hamburg with his straightforward proposition: He would donate $100,000 toward the construction of a new hospital and extended care center - if local folks would collectively match his contribution and complete the project.
George C. Grape's contribution was ultimately matched five times over by the Hamburg community before the final financing arrangements were complete, and the hospital was opened in 1968.
Born May 9, 1884, Mr. Grape spent his early youth and young manhood here in Hamburg, quitting school as a sophomore to go into the grocery business. He later moved to Montana to, as he described it: "make my fortune". Shortly after his arrival in Montana, he suffered a severe back injury as a result of a falling rock. Mr. Grape then returned home where he learned how to walk with a cane.
Mr. Grape moved to St. Joseph, Missouri in 1929, where he bought an old property and converted it into a rooming house. He then moved on to Oklahoma, Texas, back to St. Joseph, and subsequently Omaha to live with his sister. He described his main occupation in life as "not much of anything", but amassed substantial wealth from over 50 years of investment in the stock market, purchasing a few shares at a time.
After suffering a stroke in 1962, Mr. Grape again forced himself to relearn the skills of movement, and was able to live without assistance until 1970 when he finally returned to Hamburg and took up permanent residence in the hospital he had helped build.
Mr. Grape passed away on October 6, 1970. While there were no close survivors, and he never married, Mr. Grape's legacy grows stronger each day. George C. Grape serves as an inspiration to us all; a great man whose generous contribution to this hospital, and to our community, will never be forgotten.
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