Founding Family Celebrates Centennial

Sherard-300Thirty descendants of Methodist Healthcare’s founder, John Holmes Sherard (1855-1941), gathered in Memphis in June to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

The family reunion included seven of the founder’s great-grandchildren, who traveled from near and far to be together on June 24th-the date the first Methodist Hospital opened.

Leslye Sherard Baltzer Wakefield was just four when John H. Sherard, her great grandfather, passed away, but she recalls the important work he did.

“I think he was dismayed to find that his Pastor was in the charity ward of another hospital. It bothered him so much that he really did something about it,” Leslye shared.

For almost 12 years, John H. Sherard worked to recruit support to create his vision - a Methodist hospital that would provide quality care for all.

“He traveled to Methodist conferences in Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas by horse to share his vision and recruited support from almost 200,000 Methodists. There were no cars, no e-mail, no phones. How he did all of this is even more remarkable given the challenges he faced,” shared John H. Pettey III, great-grandson and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare board member.

Throughout the century, the Sherard family has remained dedicated to supporting, advocating for and leading Methodist Healthcare.

Great-granddaughter, Rebecca Anne Baltzer, confirmed, “There has almost always been a John H. Sherard on the Board of Directors, and now John H. Pettey III is the family member on the Board.”

To commemorate the Centennial, the Sherard family participated in a full weekend of special celebrations that included the unveiling of Methodist’s Centennial history book, The Power of One, the Party of the Century event at Shelby Farms Park, and an intimate family service at Sherard Chapel located in Methodist University Hospital.

During their visit, they also toured Methodist hospitals, including Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the new Shorb Tower at Methodist University Hospital. 

Leslye remarked, “I am impressed with all of the things Methodist does in the community.” And Rebecca added, “It’s gigantic now compared to what it originally was-just that one building on Union Avenue where Leslye and I were born.”

Reflecting on this momentous milestone, the Sherard family was inspired by the impact their family member’s vision is still making today.

Rebecca shared, “During the Centennial celebrations, “The Power of One” phrase reminded us particularly, that there was one person behind this and he just kept pushing until it happened.”

Fourth, fifth, and sixth generation descendants of John Holmes Sherard, Methodist Healthcare’s Founder, gathered in Memphis in June to celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the healthcare system.