Kevin Huey’s emotions quickly rise to the surface when discussing the deaths of two of his very close friends.
Ted Papenfus, who had a history of heart trouble, died suddenly in November 2015 at age 67 while he and Bob Tait were vacationing in Palm Springs.
The couple had been partners for 43 years and Papenfus’ death was especially hard on Tait who passed away in May 2018, essentially of a broken heart, according to his friends.
Tait could not imagine life without his partner.
Now, Huey has made a $65,000 donation to the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Medical Foundation in his friends’ memory.
His recent gift marked the successful completion of the Medical Foundation’s $20-million campaign to provide medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital (PRH) expansion including the David E. Kampe Tower.
His donation to PRH is meant to honour the couple who, due to Papenfus’ heart problems, had made a number of visits to the emergency department over the years.
“They always talked about how wonderful their experience at the hospital was,” Huey recalled. “It just struck me it would be very fitting to give this money to the hospital in their memory. They were such wonderful people.”
Huey was born in Princeton but moved to the Penticton area in 1990 to run the Kaleden Irrigation District and later to take over managing the Keremeos Irrigation District as well.
Huey and his partner Donald Schmidt retired at the end of 2018 and have done a fair bit of travel, which Papenfus and Tait also always loved to do.
“I’d like to thank the SOS Medical Foundation and all the staff at PRH for continually working to make this hospital a wonderful, caring place,” said Huey.
The new PRH patient care tower opened in April 2019. Construction is now underway on Phase 2, including a major upgrade to the emergency department, scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2021.