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Learn How to Make a Difference in Your Community

To find out how you can plan a gift to Northwest Community Hospital, please contact director of Gift Planning David Terrill at or 847.618.4265. Options include a bequest, a life-income gift, a gift of life insurance—and more. Visit for additional information.

A Legacy of Caring

A local woman gave generously to ensure quality care for her community

Donna Drake grew up in a little Wisconsin town and dedicated her life to helping others. "She never lost her small-town friendliness, and she was the most unselfish person I've ever known," says her daughter, Elizabeth Drake. When Donna died this past October, she left a legacy of caring, as well as a generous gift to Northwest Community Hospital.

Donna launched a nursing career in Rockford before moving to Arlington Heights with her husband, James, soon after their 1948 marriage. Much of the village was still farmland—and there was no hospital nearby. When their first child, William, was born in 1950, they had to travel to Oak Park for the delivery. Elizabeth came along two years later to complete the family.

By the mid-1950s, Donna was an enthusiastic participant in the community-wide, door-to-door fundraising campaign that turned the vision of Northwest Community Hospital into a reality. "As the community grew, she wanted services to be available to everyone," Elizabeth says.

A Life of Service

An insurance executive, James was Cook County manager of Country Companies in downtown Arlington Heights. He and Donna both volunteered to serve—and often led—a wide range of community groups.

Still a nurse at heart, excellent healthcare remained a driving passion for Donna. She was active in Nurses Club, and she maintained a connection to NCH as a member of the Hospital's Auxiliary. Fellow member Dottie Hardy says, "Donna was a joy to be around. People were naturally attracted to her warm and friendly presence. She was a volunteer who truly exemplified NCH's caring culture."

After the death of her husband, James, and the decline of her own health, Donna vowed to follow through on her long-held intention to make a charitable gift to her favorite hospital. She arranged to make a significant unrestricted gift to NCH just weeks before her death.

"She saw Northwest Community Hospital as an important and necessary part of the community, worthy of support. It was what Dad would have wanted, too. They worked hand-in-hand, and they both believed in serving the community," Elizabeth says.

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Last Updated 04/10/2009