ST. GEORGE – A familiar piece of St. George’s skyline disappeared Thursday morning, when the Tree of Light and Life was removed from the roof of Dixie Regional Medical Center’s 400 East campus.
Originally called the Lights for Life Tree, the 36-foot monument was donated to the hospital by Dixie State Bank over 20 years ago. It is estimated to be more than four decades old.
The tree was first used by the hospital to raise awareness for end-of-life care.
“Twenty years ago, people didn’t really understand hospice,” said Patricia Shoemaker Glessner, who chaired the original Lights for Life Committee.
Eventually, the tree also became a way for the hospital to raise money. Glessner said the committee asked people to donate $10 for a light on the tree in honor or memory of a loved one.
The first year’s goal was to raise $10,000; members of the community donated $22,000.
“People would look up and be emotional thinking about their specific light,” Glessner said. “It was delightful to see.”
An additional monument tree was erected at the hospital’s River Road campus in 2003. Funds generated from the trees are now directed to support many hospital projects, including newborn intensive care, Life Flight helicopter service and maternal fetal medicine.
“Lots of people in the community have donated,” said Michael Bench, facilities director to DRMC. “It was hard for some people to here to see (the tree) come down.”
Brady White, a spokesman for Intermountain Healthcare, said the metal tree was getting a bit old and needed to go. “It’s showing signs of age,” he said.
However, Bench said the old tree is being replaced with a new one with a more modern design. The new tree for the 400 East campus is expected to be ready for installation and lighting by July 8, when the hospital celebrates its CareCentennial.
Still, people are sentimental about the original tree, he said.
“Some people don’t remember it not being here,” said Tomie Fuller, development specialist for the Foundation of Dixie Regional Medical Center.
Once the new monument tree is in place, it will join its sister tree at the River Road Campus in honoring and remembering the individuals who have served Southern Utah and the families who call this area their home.
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