Turning Loss into Legacy
It was early on a crisp October day in 2002. Kay Will was exhausted and heartbroken. Her beloved husband, Marvin, “the other half of my soul,” was dying. He had been fighting a thirteen year battle with a rare disease, pseudomyxoma peritoneii. He had endured seventeen long surgeries, but the battle was finally over.
In the midst of her grief, however, Kay was thinking about how to thank Dr. John Gregory, Marvin’s surgeon and friend. Kay reflects, “Marvin and John connected right away and when Marvin was diagnosed with an unusual disease, John did everything he could and explored every treatment option. What popped into my head was how much doctors give of themselves and they are never really given a thank you. I wanted to thank Dr. Gregory for his remarkable dedication to my husband by doing something that would go on into the future and give back to the surgery department.”
Kay, her daughter, Michelle, and Michelle’s husband David, decided to honor Marvin by creating the Marvin D. Will Endowment to benefit the Department of General Surgery. When friends and family ask how they can remember Marvin, Kay encourages them to contribute to his named endowment.
Since 2002, Kay and her friends and family have contributed to the endowment several times a year to celebrate special events in their lives, like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. “Just the smallest contributions add up, and when friends, family and I give to the endowment, it makes us feel as if Marvin is still a part of whatever we are celebrating,” says Kay.
“It’s something small, something that keeps the memory of Marvin alive. I think Marvin would be proud of what I have done with the endowment and what it does for people in need,” Kay said recently. “I am so thrilled the endowment has grown to where it is today, and I feel good knowing the dollars stay in Billings and help Billings Clinic patients. You can reach so many people, right in our community.”