HODC Celebrates a Vision Fulfilled with Dedication of Education Center

June 3, 2024

Davidson County, N.C. (May 30, 2024) – Hospice of Davidson County (HODC) dedicates Education Center to honor the life and legacy of former CEO, Gary M. Drake.

Gary M. Drake served as CEO of Hospice of Davidson County from 1993 until retiring in 2009; he passed away unexpectedly in 2017. Gary was a well-known and beloved advocate for Hospice on both local and state levels. During his tenure, Gary grew HODC exceptionally. He was the driving force for envisioning, securing funding, and building the current HODC campus including an Administration and Home Care building and the county’s only in-patient unit, the Henry Etta & Bruce Hinkle Hospice House.

Gary’s love for education, passion for serving others, and commitment to excellence created a lasting legacy that was celebrated during the dedication event by the Drake family, HODC colleagues, and multitude of community partners. A private ribbon-cutting ceremony preceded the larger program, which consisted of remarks from Laura Owen, CEO of HODC; Jenny Varner, President of Davidson-Davie Community College; and Sylvia Walters Drake, wife of the late Gary M. Drake.

The Gary M. Drake Education Center is an integral part of the HODC campus and consists of a state-of-the-art learning lab and a multi-use conference room. The learning lab is used, in conjunction with proprietary curricula, to benefit HODC staff members and as a model nationally.

“Hospice of Davidson County is our sole clinical partner in providing our healthcare students at the college with hands-on experience in end-of-life care,” stated Jenny Varner, President of Davidson-Davie Community College. “We are made better by our partners. We educate people better because of our partners. And through this partner right here, Hospice of Davidson County, our students achieve a level of learning and compassion that doesn’t happen anywhere else.”

Gary’s service to others spanned his entire life, including his service as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps from 1968-1971 and as a Major in the South Dakota National Guard. The dedication ceremony concluded with the presentation of a signed letter from Representative Larry Potts’ office to Gary’s widow, Sylvia Walters Drake. The letter was presented by Master Sergeant Dan Wood of the United States Marine Corps and HODC’s Lisa Fowler, “We Honor Veterans” committee member.

Beyond his passion for education and quality care for our community, Gary is remembered warmly by the HODC for conducting short meetings, maintaining an endless supply of yellow legal pads, and sharing his York Peppermint Patties.

“Of note is Gary’s alignment with the Hospice philosophy – of holistically caring for the patient and the caregivers, not just the physical pain management and symptoms but the whole individual. That is how Gary cared for his staff – he cared for the whole individual. Because of his dedication and commitment, Gary was an integral part of getting us to where we are today,” explained Laura Owen, Hospice of Davidson County Chief Executive Officer.  “We are excited to be on the cusp of 40 years of service. We have unbelievable staff and our turnover rate is under 5%. Gary’s values and commitments remain evident in the work we do everyday, and we carry that forward, thinking of Gary.”

HODC is quickly approaching our 40th Service Year, and this event is an important opportunity to reflect on its unique local history and celebrate the fulfilled visions of its founders. The lasting legacies of these dedicated individuals continue to provide an exceptional resource for all individuals within our community. HODC gives families access to comfort, care, and counseling that guides them through the grief process towards peace and resolve.

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