Mercy Health Love County - News

Washburn Recognized for Service to Brannan Trust and Hospital

Posted on Wednesday, April 28th, 2004

Hospital administrator Richard Barker (left) and Love
County Health Center Foundation president Arthur
Rickets (right) award a certificate “for expert financial
counsel” to L.E. “Gene” Washburn. Washburn has
presided over the Brannan Trust board of trustees
since its founding in 1974. His wife, Willis Anne,
joined in the presentation.

In 1974, when brothers Bill and Claude Brannan sought advice for establishing a family trust to benefit the then-new Love County Hospital, they turned to their banker.  

L.E. “Gene” Washburn and his wife Willis Anne and their children had moved to Marietta in 1971, when Gene Washburn and his partners Melvin Hatley and John Hastie purchased First National Bank of Marietta. Washburn served as president and chairman of the board for the reopened bank, known as First Bank, for the next 23 years.
The Brannan brothers, Loves Valley ranchers, were customers from the beginning, “loyal and very supportive of us,” Washburn said. They asked Washburn to chair the Brannan Trust and direct its investments. They asked the Love County Commissioners to establish the Love County Health Center Foundation to make decisions about how annual earnings from the Brannan Trust should be spent.
One year ago, the Love County Health Center Foundation honored Claude Brannan, 84, for 30 years of giving to the hospital through the Brannan trust (Bill Brannan died in 2000). During that time, the trust itself had grown to $1 million and about $1 million had been paid out to purchase equipment, provide medical education, and support operations of the hospital.
Claude Brannan told the Foundation he had never before attended an annual meeting. “We really didn’t do it (found the trust) for recognition, and the people at the Foundation and hospital have been doing a good job without me being here, but I was glad to hear the list of projects funded and know that the trust has done even more than we anticipated,” he said.
This year, at its annual meeting in February, the Foundation honored the Brannans’ advisor, Gene Washburn, for continuous service as chairman of the trust since 1974, in particular “for provision of expert financial counsel and management.”
At a presentation at the hospital a few weeks ago, Foundation president Arthur Rickets elaborated. “The money for the trust was donated in stock and Gene continued to invest it in stock and the stock market became very good over the years. Then, in 1998, he advised the trust it was time to get out of the stock market and into bonds. History shows that his foresight was very good and the income on the trust grew greater than before.”
“We in Love County have a lot to be thankful to Gene Washburn for. For years he served the Chamber of Commerce and the Love County Industrial Foundation as chief financial officer and planner, and he continues to direct the Brannan Trust. We are fortunate to have him in Marietta all through the years.”
Richard Barker, administrator, pointed out the essential role Washburn played in the early 1990’s when the local hospital, like many rural health care providers in Oklahoma, fought off closure. “I relied on Mr. Washburn to guide me during the difficult time the hospital faced. He had the idea for the bank to engage in a lease purchase of hospital equipment until the sales tax had been voted in, and with the help of Ken Delashaw, our hospital attorney, we developed the plan and we were one of the first hospitals in Oklahoma to stay open in this fashion. Now, lease-purchases are commonplace.”
“Also, in the early years of the trust, spending was restricted to capital equipment. During the threatened closure, Mr. Washburn obtained approval from the trust to spend on operations, and that helped keep us open. Trust funds have also been used to provide scholarships for the medical education of employees. That has helped many of us complete our educations. I compliment him on his management of funds to increase interest income and his devotion to keeping the hospital open,” Barker said.
This year, the Brannan Trust produced $60,000 of interest income, a record. Barker reported that the Foundation has voted to approve the hospital’s request to use the greater part to finish paying for an $80,000 piece of equipment that analyzes cardiac enzymes to reveal with certainty whether a patient had suffered a heart attack.
Another $10,000 will be directed to the hospital employee’s emergency food pantry serving the hungry and food insecure of Love County. “We are purchasing 7,000 pounds of food per month and serving 170 families currently. This donation benefits the entire community and will help sustain the food pantry for some time to come,” Barker said.
Purchases in recent years have included physical therapy equipment for the rehabilitation wing, a ventilator in the cardio-pulmonary department, equipment for the ambulance and trauma rooms, computers in the radiology lab that send results electronically to the clinic, training materials in pediatric life support, and establishment of a preceptor program which allows medical students from Texas Women’s University, University of Texas-Arlington, and California College to visit and train in Love County.
Washburn praised the hospital as “great for the community and one of the few to survive and do so well. It is also one of the best employers in our county with 74 employees. We are fortunate to have Richard as administrator. I assure you there is not a hospital in the state that wouldn’t like to have him, and we have been fortunate with our doctors.”
“Claude Brannan and his brother Bill were always very community minded, very loyal to Love County and interested in anything for the betterment of the community,” he added.
Besides Washburn, other trustees of the Brannan fund are Ken Delashaw and Lynn Puckett. Since 1998, Washburn said the trust has also relied on guidance from Citizens Bank in Ardmore, whose trust officer is Charles Williams.
Mr. and Mrs. Washburn raised three sons and three daughters, and have 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Mrs. Washburn retired in 1997 after 11 years as secretary of Marietta Elementary School.
Besides Rickets, other members of the Love County Health Center Foundation are Puckett, Delashaw, Wayne Bond, Burl Bone, Willis Choate, Susan Cochran, Gary Elmore, Brent Hartin, Ann Langston, James Moffitt, Nikki Powell, H.G. Tankie Spivey, and Betty Wolfe.