A crowd of about 130 people gathered for a “family reunion” on Tuesday, June 12, at the Dallas Country Club. Officially, the gathering was the inaugural dinner and program for the Methodist Health System Foundation‘s Eagle Society. That’s a new society consisting of current and retired board members, donors and leaders of all stripes across the Methodist system.
But unofficially, foundation President Jim Johnston declared from the podium before the dinner began, the new group is “our family. The Methodist family. And tonight is the beginning of a family reunion. … We’ll have meetings throughout the year,” he went on. “We’re not going to talk about gettin’ old, or what to eat, or what medicines we take. We’re going to enjoy our family reunion!”
Those attending the event were well-known supporters of Methodist, including Gail and Gerald Turner, Carol Seay, Penny and Dr. Richard Dickerman, Jimmy Westcott, Nancy Bierman, Marilyn Mansfield, Eileen and Ron Ricks, Bernie DiFiore, Julie Yarbrough, Joy and Harold Duncan, Cindy and Dr. Armond Schwartz, Bina and Dr. Nimesh Patel, Alina and Ruben Esquivel and Bobby Lyle. Also spotted were Margo Keyes (Jim Keyes was in California on business), Ashlee and Chris Kleinert and Kim and Greg Hext.
Following the reception and then an invocation by Rev. Dr. Keith Boone of the University Park United Methodist Church, the guests enjoyed dinner (baby greens/poached pear salad, braised short ribs and fingerling potatoes, chocolate mousse cake) after brief welcoming remarks by Methodist President and CEO Steve Mansfield.
Steve talked about the critical importance of physicians to the health system, and lamented that the legendary veteran Dr. Phil Berry Jr., who was in the audience, was performing his final procedure for the hospital. “This is a prayer un-answered for me,” Steve said. “I’ve prayed for 12 years that I would retire before he does!” On the brighter side the CEO added that Methodist is the largest employer in southern Dallas, and had been named a Best Place to Work for 14 years in a row.
Then Steve gave way to the evening’s keynote speaker: Jonathan Sandys, the great-grandson of the iconic World War II leader and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Sir Winston Churchill. “I love speaking at this event because if I have a heart attack, there’s always a doctor in the house,” Jonathan began, laughing.
Disclosing that it’s “very awe-inspiring” to be the descendant of Churchill, who died 10 years before Jonathan was born, the keynoter said his great-grandfather displayed three primary leadership traits during his long career: courage, faith, and integrity. Although Churchill was often unpopular with the British people, Jonathan said, he had the courage of his convictions.
At this, Sandys asked everyone in the audience to stand up and repeat the phrase “God save the queen!” three times. After they had done so, he asked, “Be honest and trust me, now: Who said it? And who didn’t stand up?” Perhaps half a dozen people in the crowd ‘fessed up to staying glued to their seats—including Turner of SMU.
Instead of berating these holdouts as black sheep, Jonathan said, “They were the Churchills. They stood up against the majority.” And those who rose unquestioningly to recite the queen’s praises? They “represented the Germans of the 1930s,” he said, providing the Eagles with much food for thought. It’s important, Jonathan concluded, to “always stand up for what you believe.”
* Photo credit: Dana Driensky