Written by The Business Journal Staff
Over a decade ago, Fresno resident John Paul went to Saint Agnes Medical Center concerned about a severe headache. Initially sent home to see if the pain would cease on its own, Paul’s life was saved after an off-duty physician made a Sunday phone call to check in on Paul’s condition.
Upon hearing Paul was still in pain, the doctor insisted he come back to the hospital where the culprit of the headache — meningitis — was discovered.
Years later, the 92-year-old is now known as one of Saint Agnes’ most loyal donors, having contributed nearly $2.4 million to hospital that saved his life.
Most recently, Paul donated $35,000 to the hospital’s women and infant services expansion project in memory of his late wife, Grace Paul, who was also cared for by physicians and nurses at Saint Agnes.
“Several years ago my wife got sick and we took her to Saint Agnes and she got better,” Paul said. “That was a really good sign of what the doctors there can do because they sent her back home, and she was happy and healthy for several more years. When I found out Saint Agnes was planning to expand its women and infant care center, I was happy to donate to that.”
John and Grace had previously donated $2 million toward the hospital’s outpatient center, which is named in their honor.
To thank Paul for his continued support, Saint Agnes held a plaque dedication for Paul on July 21. Plaques located outside two patient rooms in the women and infant care center were unveiled in memory of Grace Paul.
Paul said he was touched to see his wife’s name outside each of the rooms.
“I hope the people here will recognize Grace Paul as one of the best women in the country, and she was my wife,” Paul said at the ceremony. “She will always be looking down on every baby that is born here.”
While the plaque dedication was the highlight of the ceremony, Paul had a surprise of his own for Saint Agnes, having brought with him another check for $35,000, this time to be used for the hospital’s emergency department.
Vanessa Hanley, Saint Agnes major gifts officer, said the hospital is grateful for all Paul has contributed over the years.
“Mr. Paul’s unwavering support of Saint Agnes over the years has greatly benefited our patients and community,” Hanley said. “His generosity has impacted so many lives in the Valley and we are honored Saint Agnes is part of his giving legacy.”
Visiting the hospital, Paul said he is still amazed to see his name everywhere, especially in large letters on the John R. and Grace G. Paul Outpatient Center. Humble about his generosity, Paul said his contributions, which were $75,000 annually for over a decade, and are now $35,000 annually, give him a nice tax write-off.
“I was in a situation where I was in an income tax bracket where I had to pay quite a bit in taxes and I decided to donate $75,000 to Saint Agnes that year because they wanted to expand and build their outpatient center,” Paul said. “Then it just became standard with me every year that I would donate to Saint Agnes.”
Of course, Paul’s benevolence to Saint Agnes is due to much more than a good tax write-off. To this day, Paul still hasn’t forgotten what Saint Agnes did to save both him and his wife on separate occasions.
“Saint Agnes is at the top of my list,” Paul said. “I could have died from meningitis if Dr. VerWest didn’t call. It was his day off; he didn’t have to make that call, but I’ll always be grateful that he did.”