The first Spring Fling fundraiser was in 1958. Bob Stewart, Herb Jillson and Jack Francis came up with the idea because funding was needed for the hospital. It was also the last chance for locals to gather before the summer rush. Tickets were sold for $5. It wasn’t until 1962 that the St. John’s Hospital Auxiliary was formed. The hospital board suggested that they take over the arrangements for the annual Spring Fling. Dorothy MacLeod, wife of Dr. Don MacLeod, was the first chairwoman for the gala. Ticket prices were increased to $6 and Gov. Clifford Hansen was the master of ceremonies.

Jeanie Staehr was the auxiliary secretary in 1978, 1979 and 1980. After all of these years she still had the minutes of the meetings, newspaper clippings and history in her possession. She kindly loaned them to me to read and I, in turn, handed them over to Connie Hansen, who is the current president of St. John’s Health Auxiliary.

It was so interesting to see how the auxiliary has evolved over the years and to see how much they have accomplished. In 1965 ticket prices for the Spring Fling were raised to $10 with $4 specified for the hospital ambulance fund. Ticket prices rose to $15 in 1969 and Bob Ranck served as master of ceremonies.

Jackson Lake Lodge has furnished the venue and the meal since the inception of the Spring Fling. In 1979 Bernie Iliff, manager of Jackson Lake Lodge, suggested that the price be raised to $25 because the $20 that was being charged barely covered the cost of the meal. The 25th anniversary was celebrated in 1983, chaired by Jeanie Staehr and Carolynn Hawtin. Ticket prices were $37.50 and the first $5,000 raised went toward the hospital building fund. Over the 25-year period, $200,000 had been raised. In the early days the auxiliary was made up entirely of women but today there are several men.

According to Connie Hansen, auxiliary president, the 60th Annual Spring Fling was held in 2019 and raised over $157,000. There was no event in 2020 nor will there be one in 2021 because of the pandemic. Next year there are plans for an extraordinary event.

The auxiliary fundraises for projects that benefit St. John’s Health and the community. Their current pledge of $250,000 is for a SPECT-flash CT scanner. This piece of equipment also does nuclear imaging. The benefit of the combination is more information for the radiologists when they are reading the images.

The auxiliary has a dedicated membership and it is always looking to grow. Their mission is to act as ambassadors for St. John’s Health as well as provide financial support.

Wilson/Goodrick reunion

This family held their reunion over Memorial Day weekend. They were so happy to be back together because they weren’t able to do so last year. Family members came that hadn’t for years, including two of Uncle Nick Wilson’s grandsons from Alaska and Washington. Activities included the Bar T5 wagon ride and meal before the rodeo and the potluck get-together in the Antler conference room.

Beware this new scam

You get a call and the caller ID says it is from your bank. The scammer says that he is from the fraud department calling about your debit card and may give you the ending numbers that are actually correct.

He will ask if you have been traveling as there are two suspicious charges that happened at an out-of-state store. Victim says no, that wasn’t me. He says he will send you a new card. He knows your address and he knows your phone number. He will send a verification code to your cellphone. Then he asks for your pin number so he can deactivate it. A bank will never ask for your pin number.

The right steps

Just read this in the Diabetes Forecast magazine. Walking 8,000 steps a day would lower your risk by 50% of dying from cardiovascular disease or other causes compared with walking only 4,000 steps or fewer. Walking pace makes no difference.

Protect those pet feet

If air temperature is 77 degrees the temperature of asphalt is 125 degrees. An air temperature of 87 degrees will cause asphalt to rise to 143 degrees. At 125 degrees, burns can occur in 60 seconds. Always check the asphalt before letting your pet walk on it.

A quote from Ellen DeGeneres

“Do we have to worry about who’s gay and who’s straight? Can’t we just love everybody and judge them by the car they drive?”

Connie Owen would love to hear your stories. Call or email her at 734-9512 or

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