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Faces of Hospice

Bernice Gulkin

Although Bernice was 89 years old and lived a difficult life, her last years were her best. She was the fourth of five children raised by a single mother, as her father died while her mother was pregnant with her last child. She lived through the Depression and never forgot what it was like to be wanting and poor. After her husband of 58 years died, Bernice needed to reinvent herself. She moved from Florida to Wilmington to be near her daughter. Those were wonderful years for her. Bernice’s daughter, DeAnne Sherman, said, “When Mom suddenly got sick in 2010 and was transferred from the hospital to hospice, she, I, and the rest of her family were unprepared for the loving and caring end-of-life she experienced. It seems so fitting that although she was of modest means and experience, she was treated to a final rest as though she had lived the life of a Queen. We are so grateful.”


Sandy St. Clair

Sandy St. ClairSandy St. Clair and her husband moved to Southport six years ago. She had a smile that would light up a room and an engaging style which immediately put people at ease. She was exceptionally proud of and committed to her son, daughter and three granddaughters. Her strength and grace served as an inspiration for both her family and friends.


Donna Filipowicz

donnaFilipowiczDonna Filipowicz was a caring, loving person who volunteered for the Hospitality House and enjoyed helping people. “Lower Cape Fear Hospice took wonderful care of her beautiful daughter,” her mother, Lynn Filipowicz, said. “Hospice is there for you, and they offer love and care both to the patient and family. I am so grateful for them.”


Joseph Pluta

jplutaAlthough macular degeneration has robbed him of much of his sight, and age has stolen most of his hearing, Lower Cape Fear Hospice patient Joseph Pluta knows how to live well. At 101 years old, he stays busy working on projects around his home—from wood-working to repairs and more. It’s a bit of a slow-down from his 80s when he began overseas travel, visiting Europe five times. Staying active and learning something new every day, he says, are among the secrets to a long life.


Olive Hawley

olive-1Olive Hawley worked making biscuits at Hardee’s when she retired from her factory job. After she broke her hip, Olive moved to a nursing home. Her friends there said Olive was fun to be around and made you laugh with her cute sense of humor and twinkle in her eyes. As an 81-year-old hospice patient, Olive was float queen in Wilmington and Leland parades. She was thrilled to ride in a 1964 Lincoln and said, “I never had anything like this happen before!” Hospice care allows you to take part in a new adventure and enjoy your life, one moment at a time.


Barbara Birkenheuer

BarbaraBirkenheuerBarbara Birkenheuer has seen firsthand the benefits of hospice care. Before hospice was available, Barbara’s father died in pain, in a hospital. Years later, Barbara’s stepfather, with the same diagnosis, died in hospice care at home, with his pain managed, surrounded by family. Barbara says the hospice team offered medical care, love, empathy and support. If you’re facing a life-limiting illness, the first call you need to make is to hospice.


Susan Desloge

SusanDesSusan Desloge’s son, Michael, died at home in hospice care at age 27. Susan says, “Hospice is a busload of angels who arrive at your door. The hospice team walks you through everything. They managed Michael’s care and supported the rest of the household – family and friends.” Susan says, “Hospice is the best organization on earth.” Susan gives back by sharing her story with others so they can receive the benefits of hospice care.


Brenda McDonald

BrendaMcDonaldBrenda McDonald called us for help when her mother faced a life-limiting illness. After her mother died, Brenda called again for help with her grief. And when Brenda’s husband died, she once again turned to our bereavement counselors for assistance. Through individual and group support, Brenda learned about the process of grieving, what she was feeling was normal, and that she was not alone on her grief journey.


Philip and Sandy Morgan

PhilipMorganPhilip Morgan and his wife, Sandy, joined hospice as volunteers. Then at age 28 Sandy became the first Lower Cape Fear Hospice patient. Sandy was an artist and a poet. She was a caring person who dedicated her life to helping others. Sandy enrolled in nursing school and planned to join the Peace Corps. Philip believes in hospice care and recommends it to others. His experience with Sandy changed him – it made him love more and appreciate life.


Jim Robinson

JimRobinsonJim Robinson has been providing support to others for a long time. He served in the Army, the Air Force, the Department of Defense, and as a police officer. He now serves others as a hospice volunteer. Jim now is a driver, a listener, a companion, a friend, and a confidant. He gives hope, compassion, solace, and respite to patients and their families. Hospice depends on volunteers like Jim – volunteers who understand the privilege it is to spend time with patients on their end-of-life journey.


Bob Wesson

BobWessonBob Wesson’s mother received medical care, support, and understanding as a hospice patient. She died at home, surrounded by her family. As a result, Bob became a hospice volunteer, a vital member of our hospice patient care team. As a volunteer, Bob gives emotional support to patients, their caregivers, and their families. He understands that every hospice patient is unique and special. Hospice volunteers, like Bob, are special people, too.


Share Your Hospice Story

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