On October 15, The Medical Center Foundation
dedicated Nell’s Prayer Garden at Northeast Georgia
Medical Center (NGMC) to honor the life of long time
hospital volunteer and leader Nell Whelchel Wiegand,
who passed away last year. Nell’s daughters, Mary
Beth Begley and Ginny Crumley, along with their
families, attended the tribute to their mother.
Nell’s Prayer Garden was made possible through
donations to The Medical Center Foundation from more
than 140 donors who helped create a lasting legacy
in honor of Wiegand. The 2,200 square- foot garden
intimately surrounds the exterior of the Dawn
McKibbon Memorial Chapel outside NGMC’s North
Patient Tower. The garden is complete with a stone
privacy wall, a water feature and plantings of
hydrangeas and a tea rose brought from Nell’s home
“It was Nell’s dream to make the garden outside of
the chapel come to life,” said Foundation Chairman
Jim Moore. “From her life experiences, Nell knew
first-hand what the garden would mean to so many.
Nell’s Prayer Garden is no ordinary garden and
appropriately serves as a spiritual place of
reverence and solitude for patients, their families
Nell provided 60 years of service as a Medical
Center Auxilian and served in almost every volunteer
position within the hospital.
passion and vision for helping those around her gave
her a unique ability to understand the needs of
patients, family members and staff,” said Northeast
Georgia Health System CEO Carol Burrell.
“She was a woman of great faith and hospitality,
and, as I look around this beautiful prayer garden,
I know Nell would wish for those visiting to relax,
reflect and take refuge in this wonderful setting
outside of the clinical environment. ”
Nell Whelchel Wiegand’s service to, and love of,
NGMC began before it even opened its doors in 1951.
She first helped prepare the community for
the new modern facility, then she went on to serve
as a volunteer, president of The Medical Center
Auxiliary, member of the Hospital Authority, and was
the founding chair of The Medical Center Foundation
She served in that capacity until 2008, when
she became chair emeritus.
“Nell was a friend to all,” shared Nancy
Colston, executive director of The Medical Center
Foundation. “The garden allows Nell’s legacy of
genuinely befriending and caring for others to live
on. We are grateful to those who were influenced by
Nell so much that they chose to be a part of
creating Nell’s Prayer Garden.”
According to Colston, a lead signature gift
was committed by a partnership of The Medical Center
Auxiliary, The Medical Center Foundation and NGMC.
Fifteen major gifts were given by Joanne & W.A.
Bagwell; Steve & Carol Burrell; Mrs. Ralph W.
Cleveland & Mr. and Mrs. John R. Cleveland; John &
Lydia Ferguson; The Fockele Garden Company; the late
Lillian Fraser; Dallas & Bobbie Gay; Dr. Clifton &
Donna Hastings; Phyllis & Dick Leet; Hart & Jeff
Payne; Richard & Lona Pope; the Starlet R. Jones
Foundation; Bob & Wanda Swoszowski; James A.
Walters; and Philip & Mary Hart Wilheit, Sr.
More than 120 additional donations were given by
auxilians, physicians, employees, close friends and
“I’ve already witnessed people strolling through the
garden or sitting beside the bubbling fountain, said
become a popular place to visit, and we couldn’t be
To learn more about signature gift naming
opportunities or The Medical Center Foundation, call
770-219-8099 or visit
Photo: Shown above are major donors who contributed
to the construction of Nell’s Prayer Garden through
donations given to The Medical Center Foundation.