Gratitude spotlight

(May 2018) Detailed in the annals of the Sisters of Mercy that are housed at the Friends of Mercy Foundation in Bakersfield, Calif., is a typewritten entry from Oct. 1, 1971.

Portrait of Sister Marion JosephSister Marion Joseph

“The sisters visited with Mrs. A.H. Karpe and her husband. The latter is 86-years-old and sick. Even with the services of the nurses around the clock, he looks poorly. Mrs. Karpe was most gracious and seemed exhausted from being up at night, off and on for a week.”

Throughout Mr. Karpe’s illness he was cared for by Mercy Hospital nurses, including Sister Marion Joseph, hospital administrator and manager of the intensive care unit. Mrs. Karpe noticed Sister Marion’s long hours at the hospital as administrator by day and bedside nurse by night and asked why she spent all of her time at the hospital.

Sister Marion explained there was a nursing shortage and, as a trained nurse, she felt it her duty to care for the patients. Mrs. Karpe was deeply touched by Sister Marion’s compassion toward her patients and commitment to the hospital. This was the beginning of their enduring friendship.

A week later, Adelaide telephoned the Sisters to say her husband was dying. Sister Marion went to their home and provided care and comfort to both Mr. and Mrs. Karpe. He passed away the following morning, Oct. 10, 1971.

Eternally grateful for the care her husband received, Adelaide asked if she could gift their 1,166-acre ranch and oil leases to Sister Marion. As a sister who had taken a vow of poverty, she requested that it be left to Mercy Hospital.

The plot of land was initially purchased for $10 in 1944 by Mr. and Mrs. Karpe. When Adelaide passed away in 1979, the land appraised at approximately $1 million—the same piece of land is now valued at nearly $30 million dollars.

A transformational gift from a patient’s grateful family

The 1,166-acre ranch and oil leases gifted to Mercy HospitalA.H. Karpe Ranch

The bequest of the Karpe ranch was not given because of heroic efforts by medical staff resulting in Mr. Karpe’s restoral of health. Instread, this gift was given because a family was treated with dignity and shown humankindness.

Almost 40 years later Karpe ranch, which is leased as farmland, continues to fund vital Mercy Hospital projects including state-of-the-art medical technology and equipment as well as outreach services provided to low-income, uninsured, or underinsured individuals by Mercy’s Department of Special Needs and Community Outreach.

Adelaide’s transformational gift also prompted the Friends of Mercy Foundation to unveil a program to help ensure that Mercy Hospitals Bakersfield have the resources to continue to provide quality, compassionate health care to the community for many years to come, just as Adelaide’s generous gift has done.

Adelaide’s Circle of Caring was established as a way to honor Adelaide’s gift and to recognize donors who have remembered Friends of Mercy Foundation with an estate or planned gift. Adelaide’s Circle of Caring membership is open to all who have made a provision to include Friends of Mercy Foundation in their wills or living trusts.

“Adelaide’s legacy prompted people who knew of her story to make their own estate gifts. Now, Adelaide’s Circle of Caring is exposing more people to Mrs. Karpe’s generosity,” says Toni Harper Dougherty, vice president of philanthropy at Friends of Mercy Foundation.

Adelaide was eternally grateful for the care and humankindness that Sister Marion showed her husband—now, the staff of Friends of Mercy Foundation and Mercy Hospitals Bakersfield are eternally grateful to her for her legacy of caring for others and promoting others to do the same.