It's been 17 years since Ross Jones, now vice president and secretary emeritus of the university, began what has become a family tradition for many employees: attending a graveside observance in memory of Mr. Johns Hopkins held each year on the anniversary of his death.
"I always think of Dec. 24, 1873, not only as the day Mr. Hopkins died but as the day when the directions in his will could be implemented—the day the hearts of the university and hospital began to pump and spring to life," Jones says.
Mr. Hopkins left $7 million in his will to establish a university and hospital in Baltimore that revolutionized higher education and health care and evolved into the worldwide Johns Hopkins institutions we know today. His gift was, at the time, the largest philanthropic bequest in the nation's history. It was the foundation for all the good that our institutions have done in the world, and also the foundation for many Baltimoreans' livelihoods.
For those grateful for his magnificent gift, the brief ceremony—attended by both employees and others who have been touched by his philanthropy—provides a poignant reminder of his beneficence and a quiet moment to be embraced during the hectic holiday season.
This year's ceremony included a talk by Jones about Washington Chew Van Bibber, a physician whose prominent patients included not only Mr. Hopkins but Abraham Lincoln, whom he treated for smallpox shortly after the Gettysburg Address.
And, as always, a wreath was placed at the head of Mr. Hopkins' simple Quaker tombstone, and attendees placed coins atop it—a tradition started by Development and Alumni Relations staffers who would visit the gravesite for good luck before speaking with prospective donors.
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