Mr. George C. Grape
"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 1968 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.
Original Hospital - 1921
The original 10 bed Hamburg Hospital was built in 1921 by Miss Carrie F. Propp on a parcel of land located on the northwest corner of "L" and Bluff Streets in Hamburg, purchased with funds raised by the Community Club. It was staffed by Miss Carrie Propp, who acted as both Hospital Superintendent and Superintendent of Nurses, a surgical nurse, three staff nurses and a medical staff comprised of area physicians and dentists including E.E. Richards, M.D., Wade Sperry, M.D., A.E. Wanamaker, M.D., R.C. Danley, M.D., R.W. Sykes, M.D., C.H. Harding, D.O., H.D. Coy, D.D.S., and S.T. Mitchell, D.D.S.
Formation of Community Hospital, Inc. - 1953
By the fall of 1953, the hospital, which had grown to 27 beds, was about to be purchased by the Good Samaritan Society of the Evangelical Church as a home for the aged. In response to the news of the proposed sale, area residents quickly raised $40,000 to purchase the hospital from the owner, Dr. R.C. Danley, and it remained in operation as Community Hospital, Inc. Harold Martin served as President of Community Hospital, Inc. and Mrs. Mary Lou Taylor acted as both Hospital Superintendent and Nursing Supervisor.
New Hospital Built - 1968
In December of 1964, a former Hamburg resident, George C. Grape, donated $100,000 to Community Hospital, Inc. to be used for the construction of a new hospital and senior citizen housing unit on land purchased with funds donated by Mrs. Miller M. Payne, Jr. Other donations amounted to an additional $446,000, Federal Hill Burton money of $435,000, and a conventional loan of $400,000, for a total cost of $1.4 million. On October 16, 1968, the hospital moved to its present site on the north edge of Hamburg and became known as Grape Community Hospital. William Grush served as Administrator of the new 84-bed facility, with Vern Wilkins serving as Board President and Paul Winkler as President of the Operating Board. Area physicians staffing the new hospital included Frederic Ashler, M.D.; Thomas Largen, M.D.; Kenneth Rodabaugh, M.D.; Roy Wanamaker, M.D.; and Stephen Rallis, D.D.S.
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