Saturday, March 20, 2010

The most humble of grapes

Aged Well
For Brendan McGrath

The most humble of grapes
become the finest of wine
over lovingly spent time
with patient vintners
and connoisseurs who appreciate them.

The finest of men are made
much the same way
and savored best after
they're gone.

- Douglas P. Smith, March 19, 2010

Doug Smith, whose poetry I have quoted before, gave me this poem yesterday. Doug works in Food Service, one of the departments in the operating division for which Brendan McGrath, had overall responsibility.

I will give Doug's poem to the McGrath family on Monday after reading it at the memorial service for Brendan at Community General Hospital.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A good man

Mary McGrath called me Sunday at about 10 a.m. She told me that her husband, Brendan, died Saturday evening in a fierce wind storm in Westchester County. The storm brought down a tree on his car.

I do not know the courage it took for Mary to make that call, less than 24 hours after the accident.

Suddenly this proud father and grandfather, this sympathetic colleague, this supportive mentor was -- gone.

Until yesterday Brendan McGrath was the vice president in charge of operations at Community General Hospital. He served in that role since 2007. Most of his career was at Auburn Memorial Hospital, which he left in 2006, having served as its Administrator and CEO. Before that Brendan was at Bridgeport Hospital, Bridgeport, CN. He had a double master's degree (public health and business administration) from Columbia University.

But his true credential was his kindness. Here are excerpts from the many, many emails I received today:
"a good man"
"a gentleman and a pleasure to work with"
"a good man and friend"
"one of the kind and caring people of the world"
"one of the kindest, gentlest human beings I ever knew"
"a wonderful, sensitive and caring person"
"my mentor . . .and my friend"
"a genuinely gentle soul"

"a very sweet, kind, and caring person"
The accident was reported today in the Post-Standard and the New York Times.

It's Monday, but Brendan did not come to the office. Instead there are flowers on his desk, along with a brief tribute and the photograph that was always at hand, a picture of Mary and their grandchild. Starting this afternoon, hospital employees are wearing a green ribbon in memory of Brendan McGrath. Our flag flies at half mast.

Thank you, Brendan, for your time with us and for the example of your life.