Meet The Founder of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital

Benson Skelton will have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Not only it is a holiday, but on Thursday the 26th, Benson will turn 105 years old.

His name may not be familiar. But what he created has been saving lives in Tallahassee for the past 60 years.

Benson Skelton spends his day around the halls at the Consulate Healthcare center in Tallahassee. And Benson is in non-stop motion, telling stories to anyone who will listen.

But the story he's most proud of is the building he helped create. Back in 1948, Benson got tired of driving out of town when he was sick.

"Everybody who had money went to Archbold in Thomasville. I was the President of the Jaycees and said we need a hospital in Tallahassee. I got one million dollars to build the first 100 rooms."

At the end of World War II and the Depression, many hospitals had become obsolete. So with the help of the Hill-Burton Act, money was generated by President Truman to create hospitals in counties that needed them. And so Benson and his partners took a million dollar loan, and created what is known today as Tallahassee Memorial.

It wasn't easy, but nothing this grand ever is. But at the 50 year anniversary in 1998, Benson was honored,
and then again in 2000, he helped in the groundbreaking ceremonies of the new emergency room.

These days, Benson can no longer see and is confined to a wheel chair, but his personality and quit wit is infectious to everyone around him.

"He's great," said caretaker Wendy Walker, "I'll say good morning, he'll say, is that you Wendy? He knows when I'm off and when I'm not here."

It's a life well lived, and a life well loved. And love is what Benson Skelton is all about. To his nurses, his friends, and especially his family.

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  • by Sarah Location: Huntsville, Alabama on Nov 19, 2009 at 05:34 PM
    What a legacy you have left for our family, Papa! Great story- can't wait to come to Tallahasse for your celebration!
  • by Marie Location: Tallahassee on Nov 19, 2009 at 06:14 AM
    Great story! What a neat man.
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