FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham celebrated its 60th anniversary this month.
John Jackson, president of the hospital, had the following to say to employees, medical staff and the community during the 60-year anniversary celebration events:
“A lot has changed in 60 years,” said Jackson. “Buildings have been renovated and newly constructed, services have expanded, and we reached a major milestone when we became a part of the FirstHealth system. That association secured our future to serve the residents of Richmond County and surrounding areas for another 60-plus years.”
“While so much has changed in 60 years, there have been two constants at Richmond Memorial Hospital,” Jackson said. “The first is Crawford Lefler, who has worked for the hospital for 60 years and is still an employee with us today. The second is the hospital’s commitment to care for people. We are friends and family caring for friends and family, and that hasn’t changed in 60 years.”
Lefler said he started working at the hospital two years before it opened.
“I was working for Gastonia Electric Association to wire the building,” said Lefler. “It wasn’t finished yet. It was just a job. Then when it came time for them to open, the maintenance supervisor wanted an assistant at the time so I went to work as a stock clerk and his assistant. I was the purchasing agent, not for drugs, but other supplies. I did that for about two years. Then he left and it all sort of fell on me. I was the maintenance supervisor for 45 years. Then I retired and went back part-time. Now I do a little bit of everything, whatever needs to be done … (although) I don’t do the heavy stuff like I used to.”
Lefler made the hospital his home and the staff, he said, felt like family. He said he couldn’t choose his favorite memory.
“All of it was a good memory,” said Lefler. “It’s not really a job, it’s an adventure. It’s always been a great place to work and I enjoyed the people. It’s been a lot of water over the dam.”
“In the late ’50s I was in the Army reserves for four years and I trained (at the hospital) as a medic,” said Lefler. “I was one of the first Civil Defense Directors when bomb shelters were being built when the Cold War started in Russia. I had a lot of part-time duties, too. But I enjoyed it all. You live longer if you’re around people; you can’t come home and sit down.”
Lefler said he has seen five or six different administrations, and at nearly 79, he isn’t ready to slow down.
“I don’t feel like quiting around now,” he said. “I’ve been working 30-hour weeks and I’m trying to hang in as long as I can.”
FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital is located at 925 S. Long Drive in Rockingham.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.