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Extraordinary Volunteer Leaves Lasting Legacy

Extraordinary Volunteer Leaves Lasting Legacy

Jean Gillan

It has been more than four years since Auxiliary member Jean Gillan walked the halls of Torrance Memorial’s fifth floor Medical/Surgical Services unit, visiting patients and sharing stories in her thick, Scottish brogue with nurses and staff. However, staff members such as Lourdes Antonio, RN, still readily recall her big heart and no-nonsense manner.

“I can still remember her walking from patient room to patient room, carrying her clipboard,” Antonio says. “She was always very orderly and her hair always neatly done. She took her role very seriously and paid close attention to detail, but was also very kind, passionate and motherly. She would take time to thank the nurses and bring us cookies. She was very thoughtful.”

Dorothy and Joe Thompson were Gillan’s personal friends and also fellow Auxiliary members. Joe Thompson worked closely with Gillan in her role as a patient representative, which required visiting patients and communicating their needs to staff. The Thompsons are long-time residents of Palos Verdes Estates, as was Gillan. They recall her “conservative” yet “spirited” demeanor.

“I will always remember her driving around in her snazzy, red Cadillac with whitewall tires,” Dorothy says with a chuckle. “When we would go to lunch, all the waiters knew her.”

Mary Matson, director of Volunteer Services at Torrance Memorial, recalls Gillan as “classy in every way.” She continues, “An interesting thing about Jean is that she never wore the usual white uniform pants while volunteering. She always wore a long, white skirt.”

Gillan went on medical leave in 2008 and was not able to return. She passed away in 2011. Since she often spoke about her love for Torrance Memorial, it came as no surprise to those who knew her to learn she had designated a gift to the medical center in her trust.

Her donation will be included in the $1 million, multi-year pledge made by the Torrance Memorial Auxiliary designated toward the naming of the new Auxiliary Healing Garden. The serene garden will be located between the new Patient Tower and existing facility. It will help relieve stress and aid in the patient healing process by connecting patients, visitors and staff to nature and daylight.

“We are most grateful for Jean’s loyalty and commitment to excellence in health care in the South Bay,” says Laura Schenasi, executive vice president, Torrance Memorial Health Care Foundation. “This generous gift resulting from her foresight demonstrates the significant impact bequests can have on our medical center, creating lasting legacies that will benefit our community for generations to come.”

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