Our Generous Donors - John
Sutter Medical Center Foundation
John’s steadfast dedication to Sutter Health spans more than three decades
John was struggling to keep his mind on his work at his office one morning in 1990 because he was feeling lousy. He felt chilled to the bone, dizzy and short of breath. When he answered his ringing phone, his gastroenterologist was on the line, with a tone that conveyed a strong sense of urgency.
“John, your test results came back. You have bleeding ulcers, which explains the lightheaded feeling you’ve been experiencing,” the physician said. “You’ve lost probably half your blood during the past week.” The gastroenterologist told John an ambulance would take him to the hospital near his medical office. John declined to be admitted to that hospital, insisting on going nowhere but Sutter General. The physician objected but John prevailed, and weakened though he was, he drove himself to Sutter General, where his doctor also had privileges.
John, who had been a member of Sutter Medical Center Foundation board of directors for four years, was the incoming board chair.
“My loyalty was with Sutter,” John explained. As soon as he arrived at Sutter General in nearly critical condition, the admissions staff processed him and the gastroenterologist ordered a whole-blood transfusion, which quickly rejuvenated John.
“What a difference an oil change makes,” quipped John, who was released a couple of days after cauterization treatment rectified the bleeding ulcers. “The doctors at Sutter stopped the leak and topped me off.” That was John’s first hospitalization, and the experience left him with greater admiration for Sutter than he already had.
John has maintained a philanthropic relationship with Sutter since the late 1970s, preceding the days when he came into prominence in Sacramento’s commercial real estate field – first for a decade with Coldwell Banker, then for the past 21 years with Cornish & Carey Commercial, where he is now senior vice president and regional managing director. John’s steadfast support of Sutter is characteristic of his personality.
His disciplined, focused and tenacious sense of loyalty dates to the days when he wore jersey No. 61 as a second-string offensive tackle and a member of the kickoff, kickoff return and punting special teams on UC Berkeley’s varsity football team. He was on the rain-soaked field in the dramatic “Big Game” of November 1972 as 72,000 fans in Memorial Stadium watched Cal upset dominant Stanford University in the final drive. Though struggling with a 2-8 win-loss record during head coach Mike White’s first year, the Cal Bears persevered and overcame a 14–3 halftime deficit. John got plenty muddy that day, along with teammates Ray Wersching (who later became a rock-steady field goal kicker on the 49ers roster), future NFL running back Chuck Muncie, wide receiver Steve Sweeney, and future NFL starting quarterbacks Steve Bartkowski and Vince Ferragamo.
The week after John graduated, he went to work in Los Angeles selling pharmaceutical products for Pfizer Inc. Two years later he and his wife, Jeannie, moved to Sacramento, her hometown. John joined his father-in-law’s business, Arden Lumber Company on Blumenfeld Drive. For six years John sold lumber primarily to homebuilders until his father-in-law, a Sutter patient, was diagnosed with cancer and decided to sell his interest in the business to his partner. Friends in the Active 20-30 Club steered John toward commercial real estate brokerage.
“One of my friends in Active 20-30 was Michael Moore, who was the very first executive director of the Sutter Hospitals Foundation. And that was how I and several other 20-30 members became involved in the late ’70s with philanthropic activity for what was then called Sutter Community Hospital,” explained John, who served on the Sutter board for 12 years before terming out in 2000.
John and Jeannie’s two daughters, Amy and Megan, were born at Sutter Memorial Hospital. Maggie, John’s wife of the past 10 years, is in residential real estate sales for Lyon Realtors.
John, who became involved with the Sutter Foundation's first capital campaign in the late 1980s for construction of the new Sutter General Hospital, also was a member of the steering committee of the fundraising campaign for construction of the Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center. John’s generous gifts to both campaigns, in addition to his unrestricted contributions over the years, cumulatively total in the mid-six figures.
“An unrestricted gift always is best because allocation of restricted funds often is more difficult than donors realize,” John advised. “When I make gifts, it’s because I believe in the institution, I believe in the people, the right person asked me, and because I have the means at the time to make the gift. This is a great institution run by great people, and if they ask me for a gift, I trust that it’s being put to good use. Period. It’s simple in my book when you’re dealing with a first-rate organization.”