A message from Bryan Mills, Community Health Network President and CEO
It is with great sadness that I share with you the passing of one of the best friends Community Health Network has ever had—John W. “Jack” Heiney, who passed away over the weekend. And it is with tremendous gratitude that I honor his four decades of service to our organization and our community.
He was invited to take a volunteer position on the Community Hospital board in 1970, while he was president and CEO of Indiana Gas Company. He has been a part of the Community family ever since. At age 70, he retired from the hospital board to become chairman of the Community Health Network Foundation, and he also was an original board member for VEI. He continued to serve on the foundation and VEI boards until his death. Without his tireless service and incredible vision, Community would be a far different place today.
Jack Heiney was the most remarkable storyteller I’ve ever met. He could go back and, in exquisite detail, tell you stories that happened when he was a kid, when he was in the war, when he was in business. He shared the story from his childhood of being in the Yankees’ locker room and meeting Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. He also could vividly recall the three times during World War II that he had personal encounters with George Patton.
I asked him where he learned management, and he told me that during the war he was given the responsibility of building and managing a POW camp—it initially had 5,000 POWs and it grew from there. He was given almost nothing to work with but got the job done—he said that’s where he learned to manage. Another important piece of that story: He found out that of those POWs, many of the women were pregnant and would deliver at his camp. He was concerned that at such an intimate time and special moment, they would not have privacy. So, he walled off an area to create a birthing room, because he thought everybody deserved privacy at that special, special time of life. That gives you a feel for his heart. It was so representative of Jack.
Next to my father, Jack was probably the biggest influence on my life, because he took me under his wing. He taught me to listen, he taught me to care, but most important, he taught me to be decisive and to take risks. He said, “Bryan, there will always be consequences—some of them will be good and some will be bad, but none of those risks is greater than indecisiveness.”
The mark that he left on Community Health Network has been profound. Consider, for example, his belief that the northeast side of the Indianapolis metropolitan area would be an area of significant growth. He was a champion of an idea that some thought was risky—the purchase of 100 acres of land in Castleton. Today, that site is home to Community Hospital North, The Indiana Heart Hospital and many other Community services, providing outstanding access to health care in an area that has been among the nation’s fastest-growing.
Consider, as well, the tremendous support the network and our employees have received in the quarter century he served on the Community Health Network Foundation board. And think about the growth Community has enjoyed—and the hundreds of thousands of lives we’ve touched—through the pioneering work of VEI… work that Jack Heiney’s vision and wisdom helped to shape. His four decades of service have been so important and influential that he was honored earlier this year by the Indianapolis Business Journal as the 2011 “Health Care Hero” in the volunteer category.
Jack Heiney would have been 98 today (November 9, 2011), and yet he still attended just about every foundation and VEI board meeting. Beyond the wealth of time and talent that he shared, he and his wife, Betty, also were incredibly generous in their financial support of Community. A 2009 donation of $1 million is the largest gift in our organization’s history, and the foundation’s planned giving society is named after Jack and Betty Heiney, as is the recently expanded patient tower at Community North.
Perhaps the greatest gift we’ve received from Jack has been his example—a life of service truly embodying our mission of commitment to the health and well-being of the communities we serve. As he put it, “I thought I could make a contribution to my fellow man,” and he set out to do just that, using his own unique talents to make an amazing difference.
With that in mind, I believe the most fitting tribute we can pay to this incredible friend of Community is to view his remarkable life as an inspiration… to realize that our own gifts and talents—whatever they may be—can make a world of difference… and then to commit ourselves to serving others in the spirit that Jack Heiney lived.
You may be interested in attending memorial services for Jack. The services will be held on Monday, November 14. Calling/visitation will be at 10 a.m., with the funeral at 11 a.m. at Flanner and Buchanan, 1305 Broad Ripple Ave. Gifts made to honor Jack can be made through Community Health Network Foundation by clicking here.
To read the Indianapolis Business Journal’s coverage of Jack Heiney, 2011 “Health Care Hero,” please click here. To view a video of Mr. Heiney’s remarks at the “Health Care Heroes” award ceremony, please click here.