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Olean General Hospital

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Olean General Hospital Dedicates Higgins Family Memorial

Posted on: 05/04/2012

Higgins Family Memorial

Olean General Hospital and the family of the late Frank W. Higgins, former Governor of New York State, joined in a ceremony today to recognize the philanthropy of Higgins family on the one-hundred year anniversary of the family’s original land and financial donation to the hospital.

“At a time when building a hospital in a rural community seemed a daunting undertaking, community leaders rose to the challenge and expanded the hospital for Olean, so that it would adequately meet the healthcare needs of the community. The Higgins family philanthropy helped make this dream come true”, said Timothy J. Finan, president and CEO of Olean General Hospital.

Frank Wayland Higgins, born August 18, 1856, in Rushford, NY was the 35th Governor of New York State. A delegate to the 1888 Republican National Convention, and a member of the New York State Senate from 1894 to 1902, Higgins was Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1903 to 1904, elected in 1902; and Governor of New York from 1905 to 1906, elected in 1904. Higgins grew up in Poughkeepsie, NY and graduated from the Riverview Military Academy in 1873. He moved to Michigan in 1875 and started a successful mercantile business, but returned home in 1879 to join his father’s company in Olean, which ran small grocery stores in central New York State. By 1884 Higgins was running the entire business and speculating in western iron and timberlands. Higgins was interred at the Mount View Cemetery, in Olean, NY upon his passing in 1907.

A land donation in 1912 by Governor Higgins’ sister, Clara A. Smith, in addition to a later gift of $36,000 by the Governor’s wife, Kate C. Higgins, in memory of their son, Orin; served as the foundation for the new Olean General/Higgins Memorial Hospital, which included a 28-bed residence for nurses of the hospital.

A plaque unveiled during the ceremony, inscribed with the following: Higgins Family Memorial, In grateful recognition of Governor Frank W. Higgins, Kate C Higgins & Clara Higgins Smith, Whose transformational philanthropy funded the construction of Olean General Hospital/Higgins Memorial, 1912-1999, “Its one purpose was to heal the sick, and thus serve the community and humanity”; was placed at the entrance of Olean General Hospital.

“We at Olean General Hospital are pleased to erect this monument to honor the Higgins family legacy in perpetuity” said Finan.

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