CEDAR RAPIDS — UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Foundation has received a nearly $4 million gift from a Cedar Rapids native, one of the largest donations to the hospital.
Foundation officials this week announced the $3.8 million donation from the estate of the late Stephen. W. Benda, the eighth largest gift in the hospital’s history.
“We’re extremely grateful for his generosity,” said Mary Klinger, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Foundation president. “His giving will be for a lifetime with us.”
Benda, 67, of Cedar Rapids, died Nov. 22, 2017, after a brief illness, according to his obituary.
He was a patient at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s at the end of his life and expressed gratitude to hospital staff in his obituary.
Klinger said she had the opportunity to meet him during his hospital stay. She described him as wonderful and generous, as well as unassuming and quiet. He told her enjoyed hiking and photography, she said.
Born in Cedar Rapids, Benda worked for IBM for many years before his retirement. Klinger said Benda was not an executive at IBM, but he had “invested well” throughout his lifetime.
His only surviving family members are three cousins who live in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
Benda expressed interest in giving to the hospital’s laboratory, which serves as the hospital’s hub, Klinger said. Every patient coming through its doors is touched in some way by the lab, whether it’s through blood draws or running cultures.
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“There’s always a tremendous need in the lab because it’s running 24/7,” Klinger said.
With his gift, officials will name the laboratory the Stephen W. Benda Laboratory.
The foundation is establishing an endowment, allowing a stream of funds to come continuously through the lab, Klinger said.
“We’re still working with the lab to determine where to put the dollars,” she said. “We’re going to take our time and really look at what are the needs so that way we can make sure we are being good stewards of the dollars.”
Hospital officials also are naming the rehabilitation gym in the new transitional care center the Stephen W. Benda Gym. The $14.9 million facility, called St. Luke’s Center for Healthy Living, is currently under construction in the northeast quadrant, near Council Street and Tower Terrace.
A pocket park on the west end of St. Luke’s campus also bears remembrance to Benda’s gift, and will be named Stephen W. Benda Park.
Helen G. Nassif donated the largest contribution in UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s history at more than $6 million.
Klinger said the amount of Benda’s gift was a surprise to her and foundation officials, but it’s one they are confident will continue to affect the hospital in the years to come.
“We’re just so grateful and humbled by his generosity,” Klinger said.
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