Lorna Bethell was the driving force behind the building of the Bethell Hospice residence. Our ten bed residential hospice exists today because of Lorna’s passionate belief that every person has the right to die with dignity, free from pain, in the comfort and embrace of family and friends.
Affected by her husband Tony’s experience as a survivor of The Great Escape in WWII, Lorna felt no one should die a lonely death. She also knew firsthand how taxing hospital stays could be on patients’ families, as she slept upright in a chair by the hospital bedside of her step-son, Jamie, prior to his death. When Tony died of cancer in his Caledon home in 2004 with Lorna by his side, Lorna knew she wanted other families to also have a place to spend their last days together, free of the responsibility of providing direct care to their loved ones. When Lorna’s daughter, Elizabeth, mentioned how the patients she saw as a VON nurse would benefit from hospice care, the idea for Bethell Hospice was born.
Lorna Bethell’s initial gift of $2,000,000 was matched by the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Health & Long Term Care, and inspired other leadership gifts from members of the community. After a six year building campaign, Bethell House opened in Inglewood in April 2010.
After the opening of the Bethell House, Lorna turned her attention to ensuring that Bethell Hospice would always have the funds necessary to provide residential and community care programs at no cost to residents, program participants or their families. She was the most vocal champion of the fundraising initiatives of the Foundation Board and staff, and remained actively involved, sharing time with residents and their families until her own death in 2013.
Surrounded by her family, Lorna Bethell passed away peacefully on December 2, 2013 at the age of 84.
Lorna’s legacy will continue with each person who passes through the doors of Bethell Hospice. Her boundless energy, warm hugs, and infectious laughter will be deeply missed.