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Virginia Glennan Ferguson was driving force behind Glennan Center

Story Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2012 15:21:00 CST

Virginia Glennan Ferguson, a champion of specialized care for aging adults whose generous donation established the Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology at EVMS, died Nov. 30. She was 96.

"She was a terrific woman — spirited, determined, and incredibly generous," says Claudia Keenan, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff. "We are so blessed by her commitment to EVMS and to geriatric care, education and research." 

Robert C. Goodman, Jr., was her attorney and a long-time family friend.

"She was a very generous person who lived modestly so she could make the most of her resources," Mr. Goodman says. "She is a wonderful example of the difference one individual can make through saving, caring and giving."

A Norfolk native and longtime Virginia Beach resident, Mrs. Ferguson gained an appreciation for the special needs of elder patients while volunteering in the emergency room at Virginia Beach General Hospital during the '60s and '70s.

"I loved every minute of it," she said.

In the mid 1990s, Mrs. Ferguson was looking for a way to honor the legacies of her father, Edward Keville Glennan, and grandfather, Michael Glennan. The men were scions of the local news industry; Michael Glennan worked for The Virginian — forerunner of The Virginian-Pilot — before buying it in the 1870s, and Keville Glennan was editor of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Dispatch.

After consulting with friends — including then-faculty physicians John Franklin, MD, and Robert Payne, MD — Mrs. Ferguson became convinced of the need for a program at EVMS focused on the unique needs of older patients. In 1995, her gift to the school established the Glennan Center.

The center has kept the school at the forefront of elder care. All medical students complete geriatric-medicine rotations. The center hosts an accredited geriatric-medicine fellowship and leads research into age-related conditions. EVMS also has a unique combined internal medicine-geriatric medicine residency program that prepares physicians-in-training to care for an aging population.

As Director of the Glennan Center, Robert Palmer, MD, talked with Mrs. Ferguson about her vision for the center.

"She was a wonderful lady with a positive attitude and passion for our seniors," he says. "A wry sense of humor and zeal for life helped her to overcome adversity. She will be missed by all of us who were fortunate to know her."

Mrs. Ferguson was thrilled to see the Glennan Center grow and advance.

"The Glennan Center has been a success," Mrs. Ferguson said recently. "I'm proud of what it's doing for older people — they're the ones who touch my heart."

A memorial service will be held at Galilee Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach at noon on Thursday, Dec. 6.