Pink Flamingos and Practical Jokes: Remembering The Original Dr. AWESOME
“Bill was a pretty spectacular guy! He was friendly, bright, and caring. And he had an awful lot of friends.” remembers Leona Francis, wife of the late, legendary Dr. William Gordon Francis.
“My husband adored his patients,” adds Leona. “I recently found an anatomy book in his collection that was given to him when he was twelve! His desire to be a doctor and his love of medicine went way back.”
Bill loved life. He liked to golf, ski, garden, scuba dive, and travel. He appreciated a good prank. Overall, he was a delight to be around. Leona and Bill met when they were both working at Humber’s Finch Legacy Site (formerly York Finch Hospital). She worked in the X-Ray Department, and he was the Chief of Obstetrics.
For years, Bill and his friends would get together on Fridays to play golf. Their group was always laughing, having a great time, and waging friendly contests. Bill would describe almost everything as “awesome” – so one year his friends dubbed their tournament The AWSOME Golf Tournament (they forgot the E)!
The Beginning of Something AWESOME
“One day Bill and I were driving to work and we just started talking about what it would be like to turn that group of guys who loved golf so much into an actual fundraiser for the Hospital,” says Leona. “Naturally, we called it The AWESOME. We really used our imagination. Everything was inspired from those silly pink flamingos you stick in the ground – including a pink jacket for the winner like the green ones at the Masters. And we awarded a trophy to the golfer we deemed to be most fun.”
That first year in 1983, Bill and his friends raised $25,000. Leona and some of the other women involved even went on to kickstart the Special Events Committee that would eventually become Humber River Hospital Foundation’s Events Team.
As for the AWESOME Invitational Golf Tournament? It’s grown into what it is today. This year, the Tournament raised over $415,000 in support of Robotic Surgery at Humber River Hospital.
“I’m astounded it’s still going after forty years,” says Leona. “I’m proud of this legacy for Bill and his friends. It’s such a joy to be able to talk about him and convey my appreciation for the Foundation, the volunteers, and the sponsors. I’m just so proud that it can continue to raise money to help the Hospital go forward.”