The Harpley Fund: A Legacy of Caring and Giving

Donor Betsy Harpley’s Gifts Fund End-of-Life Care for Cancer Patients

In 1992, Betsy Harpley was moved to create an endowment to help Lahey Hospital & Medical Center cancer patients near the end of life. She knew from firsthand experience the emotional and financial struggles facing families at this difficult time, and she wanted those with limited resources to be able to obtain supplemental nursing care at home or in hospice.

This was personal for Betsy, whose husband Theodore “Ted” Harpley — a longtime Westford resident, father, and accomplished engineer and businessman — had died of cancer at Lahey the year before. Betsy explained when she established the Theodore Raymond Harpley Endowment Fund that she had been grateful to be able to hire a private-duty nurse to assist with Ted’s care. She wanted to help other families do the same, even if they didn’t have the financial resources. “Thank goodness hospice programs have emerged to support patients and their families through this most difficult passage,” she said.

In addition to the gifts she made to the fund during her lifetime, Betsy enriched it as well with a $438,000 bequest upon her death in 2017. The fund has grown to more than $1.3 million, typically generating an annual income of 5 percent to be used for patient grants. For 25 years, the fund’s mission has been discreetly accomplished.

“We know the impact of the Fund pleased Mom,” said her daughter Sarah Harpley Brukilacchio. “We found Mom had carefully saved heartfelt notes of appreciation from families who had received support. She was incredibly satisfied that the fund was being administered as directed.”

A loyal, longtime supporter of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center and a member of its Dr. Charles A. Fager Legacy Society, “Betsy was a cherished friend and active volunteer at Lahey,” said Patricia Newton, senior philanthropy officer. “Her vision and generosity allowed hundreds of Lahey patients and their families to receive exceptional and compassionate care when they needed it most.”

A legacy of compassion lives on

The Harpley Fund was originally created as a meaningful way to honor Ted Harpley’s memory, while making a difference in the lives of patients and their loved ones. This legacy of compassion now encompasses Betsy’s generosity to Lahey. The Harpley family is pleased to know that the fund will continue its mission of compassionate care for years to come.

Inspired by Betsy’s example, the hospital’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) this spring created the WLC Hospice Comfort Care Fund to help fund end-of-life care for Lahey patients with diagnoses other than cancer. Its goal is to raise $2 million by 2022. Many WLC members fondly remember their dear friend Betsy, who was an early member of the Council.

“The vital services the Harpley Fund has offered families at a most challenging time are compelling,” said WLC Co-chair Kathy Huber. “The Fund’s impact really resonated with all of us in the WLC, and we wanted to extend those benefits across the hospital.” (Please see the story about the WLC Hospice Comfort Care Fund here.) The legacy of the Harpley bequest has had far-reaching ripple effects.

Meaningful, personal and enduring gifts

“Mom believed in finding solutions,” said  Cindy Harpley Boggs, one of Betsy’s daughters. “When Dad was very sick, we organized a family celebration of my sister Barb’s wedding to take place in a hospital lounge, with the ready help of folks at Lahey,” she said. “Mom recognized then that families of oncology patients will often experience a need for help and she wanted the fund to be there to provide that immediate response and solution.”

Through thoughtful planned giving, Betsy established a meaningful, personal and enduring gift to her community and future generations. “Lahey listened closely to Mom’s motivation and respected her mission,” said Cindy.

Accessing Support from the Harpley Fund

If you or a loved one could benefit from the support of the Harpley Fund, please speak with your social worker or physician at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. You may also call the Philanthropy Office at 781.744.3333 or email us at philanthropy@lahey.org.