Johns Hopkins family to remember institutions' founder

Image credit: SHIV GANDHI / HOMEWOODPHOTO.JHU.EDU

Johns Hopkins didn't have any direct descendants. Unless you count all of us: the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the institutions he founded.

Mr. Hopkins, the Baltimore merchant who died Dec. 24, 1873, left $7 million in his will to establish the university and hospital that bear his name. It was then the nation's largest philanthropic bequest; it was a gift that revolutionized higher education and health care and, in many ways, made the world a better place.

Each Christmas Eve, members of the Johns Hopkins family gather at his grave. We pause during a frenetic holiday season to remember him and show our gratitude for his great act of generosity.

This year's observance—marking the 143rd anniversary of the day on which Johns Hopkins made Johns Hopkins possible—will take place at the Hopkins family gravesite in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24. All are cordially invited.

The 18th consecutive brief, informal annual ceremony will, as always, be led by university Vice President and Secretary Emeritus Ross Jones. The speaker is Phoebe Evans Letocha of the Chesney Medical Archives at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. An expert in the history of nursing at Johns Hopkins, she will discuss "Johns Hopkins' Legacy for Nursing Education."

To join the gathering, enter Green Mount Cemetery's main gate at 1501 Greenmount Ave., about five blocks south of North Avenue; drive up the hill, park near the crest, and look for the group to the right.

This year, our friends at Civic Works invite you after the observance to Mr. Hopkins' former estate home, Clifton, now Civic Works' headquarters and the center of a great city park. At Clifton, we will toast Mr. Hopkins with a cup of hot cider. Then, you may stay for a short tour of the mansion with Civic Works' volunteer guides.

Clifton is at 2701 St. Lo Drive, less than 2 miles from Green Mount Cemetery. As you leave the cemetery, turn right on Greenmount Avenue, then right on North Avenue. Turn left at Harford Road and continue until you see Clifton Park on your right. Enter the park between the pillars at St. Lo Drive. Within the park, make the first left, then the next left. Park anywhere near the mansion and enter at the glassed-in back porch.

To learn more about Mr. Hopkins' final days and his death, you can read the text of his Baltimore Sun obituary online.

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