Laurie and Gerry Carlson describe themselves as “old-time Langley people” who remember their community back when it was a underpopulated rural area with a tiny hospital.
“The first one [hospital] that I can remember was in Murrayville,” said Laurie, who turns 85 this year.
“It was just a little, tiny building, just up the hill,” Laurie told the Langley Advance Times.
Gerry was born in Langley before there was a hospital of any kind, at a nursing home.
She described the first Langley facility as “a country hospital.”
“But it has gradually progressed,” she added.
Now, the couple, along with their children, sons Ted and Brent, and daughters Cathy and Leanne, have committed to donate $500,000 towards the new ER at Langley Memorial Hospital.
“With a family the size of ours, there’s [also] been a lot of ER utilization,” Laurie chuckled.
“[That ER is] worthy of a new building, to be sure.”
He has made a number of charitable donations to Metro Vancouver hospitals, but the LMH contribution is the biggest, Laurie estimated.
“We wanted to give back to the community,” Laurie said.
He said three of his four children and 12 of his 20 grandchildren were born at LMH.
He’s also had his gall bladder removed at LMH.
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Gerry remembers when Langley sidewalks were wooden and impossible to navigate on roller skates and what an exciting moment it was when concrete arrived.
Over the years, she has also seen Langley Memorial Hospital evolve, from an initial modest one-storey hospital into the current “world class” facility that “hardly feels like a hospital,” when she has been a patient.
“We were always treated very well,” Gerry said.
Laurie’s father was O.J. Carlson, who had a plumbing and heating business based in a building on the Fraser Highway.
“It used to be right where C-Lovers fish and chips is now,” Laurie recalled.
While his older brother Mel took up his father’s trade, Laurie followed a different path.
“To be very polite, I hated it (plumbing),” he said, chuckling.
“I went to university and got a degree in accounting.”
While he was in business as an accountant, several of the doctors at the hospital were his clients.
One of them was a Dr. McBurney, Laurie said.
He isn’t sure, but he suspects it is the same McBurney that the Langley City plaza takes its name from.
“McBurney arrived in 1919 and practiced medicine from his home on the south side of the Yale Road (today’s Fraser Highway)” the site recounts.
After a successful career in accounting, Laurie went into business with his older brother Mel, running Mainland Sand and Gravel, one of the largest producers of quarried products, river sand, and recycled concrete and asphalt products in B.C. until it was sold five years ago.
At the announcement of the donation, Phil Jackman, chair of the Emergency Response Campaign, said generations of Carlson family members have had occasion to use the hospital.
“From births to end of life care, to surgeries and trips to the ER – this is their hospital and it is an important supporting pillar of their community,” Jackman said.
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