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Lucases Mark Growth Milestones at GBMC, Gilchrist

December 7, 2020
Name a milestone or major event throughout GBMC's history, and the names Barbara and Ben Lucas are sure to follow. Ben’s daughter, Catherine Wyatt, was delivered in the newly-opened "hospital on the hill" in October 1965. Her youngest daughter, Keelty Wyatt, great-grandniece of legendary GBMC patron, Joe Keelty, was born here some 32 years later.

Barbara, who is now retired from her role as a corporate executive at the global power tool leader, Black & Decker, joined GBMC's Board in 1990, honoring a tradition dating back to the establishment of GBMC, whereby senior officers of the company were encouraged to support the hospital in various ways. But what began as corporate tradition for her quickly turned into a joint personal commitment for the couple characterized by friendship, gratification, and generosity. In 2000, Barbara was elected to chair the GBMC Healthcare Board of Directors, stepping down from board membership entirely in late 2003.
Ben and Barbara Lucas' daughter, Catherine Wyatt, and granddaughter, Keelty Wyatt, named after dear friend, Joe Keelty
Ben and Barbara Lucas' daughter, Catherine Wyatt, and granddaughter, Keelty Wyatt, named after dear friend, Joe Keelty

But GBMC had not quite finished with the Lucases. In 2010, Ben was asked to fill a temporarily vacant seat on the Gilchrist Board. He agreed, staying in the seat and eventually chairing the board for two years and remaining in leadership roles with Gilchrist until 2017. Ben said his tenure at GBMC truly dated back to 1990 when Barbara joined the GBMC board and he became "Mr. Barbara Lucas."

"The original Black & Decker connection did trigger it all," Barbara said, "but the desire to invest more personally in terms of time, effort, and financial support grew as our knowledge of GBMC increased. GBMC has been the center of healthcare, not just for Ben and me, but also for our family, friends, neighbors, and business associates. Having so many personal connections with people who depended on GBMC, we wanted to do all we could to be helpful and not let anyone down. The more we learned, the more our respect grew for GBMC’s mission and the extraordinary people involved in its healthcare system."

According to Ben, "We saw ourselves as ‘utility infielders,' helping where we could, with no particular sense of being philanthropists. But, it's definitely gratifying to be able to provide financial support to a first-rate healthcare system that makes a critical, positive difference in the quality of our life and that of family and friends."

Married for 45 years, Barbara and Ben have supported GBMC and Gilchrist for almost three decades, lending their support to the nursing staff, the Yvonne Kahlert Chapel, and funding general operating expenses for both institutions. Their most recent gift is a six-figure bequest to Gilchrist in support of the "We Honor Veterans" outreach program. This effort is particularly important to Ben, who compiled nearly 24 years of military service, starting with active duty in the U.S. Marines, and later as a reservist in both the Maryland Army and Air Force National Guards.

The bequest gives GBMC the opportunity to induct Ben and Barbara into the Joseph S. Keelty Society, an honor that has more significance to the Lucases than just the recognition. As Barbara explained, "Our recent gift is certainly based on our respect for Joe, but, more than that, it says that we are 'all in' with GBMC and want to provide the support it deserves. Joe and others at GBMC have inspired us, and perhaps our example will encourage others to get on board."

Barbara and Ben are inspirational forces for GBMC in more ways than just their philanthropy. Their volunteer leadership with both organizations has been integral during several transformative periods. Barbara's tenure on GBMC's Board saw the establishment of Gilchrist, critical discussions and decisions that reaffirmed GBMC’s status as an independent community hospital, and the hiring of a new CEO.

Ben’s time leading the Gilchrist Board saw the growth of the Howard County inpatient unit, the acquisition of Joseph Richey House and the implementation of important changes to the Board’s structure. The couple is proud to have been a part of these milestones.

"GBMC has gone from strength to strength and somehow found its way to be on the leading edge in every period, through all the trends," Barbara said. "GBMC is our neighborhood go-to place for healthcare that just happens to be one of the most advanced, competent, accessible and attentive systems anywhere. I remember Board discussions about what our mission statement should be, and I think we hit the nail on the head: ‘We aim to treat everyone as we would have our loved ones treated.’ At GBMC and Gilchrist, you're a patient, you're a person, you're important."
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