Timothy Dentry, president and CEO of Northern Light Health (left) and Mary Prybylo, president of St. Joseph Healthcare (right) announce that the two hospitals will receive $9 million each from the late John Webber’s estate. Webber's nephew Steven Spetnagel (center) delivered the checks. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor’s two major hospitals will receive $9 million each from the late John Webber’s estate.

Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center and St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation made the announcement during a news conference at the Cross Insurance Center on Wednesday. The organizations anticipate several million dollars more at a later date, following the estate’s settlement.

Webber, a Bangor native who served in the United States Marine Corps before graduating from the University of Maine with an art degree in 1970, died Oct. 24, 2022. He was 78. Webber cared deeply for his community and hoped the money would benefit future health care in Bangor, according to officials from both hospitals.

Webber’s contribution is part of $31 million going to charity, including $22 million to the Bangor area. It’s the largest gift that EMMC has received in its history, though it was not immediately clear if the same is true for St. Joseph Hospital, which will use its $9 million to enhance inpatient and surgical care facilities. EMMC officials said the contribution would improve technology and access for patients but was not ready to share news about projects in the works.  

Webber left $2 million each for the University of Maine and Husson University. Another $9 million is going to Doctors Without Borders, an international organization that provides medical care during humanitarian crises.

Webber’s bequest represents a significant investment in the health and well-being of patients and their caregivers, health care workers and the community, said Mary Prybylo, St. Joseph Healthcare president, in a prepared statement. He was a patient there, and staff provided care during his final days.

“Mr. Webber’s generosity will help transform our care environment for patients and staff in our inpatient and surgical care facilities through improved accessibility, comfort, technology and more,” she said.

The funding will support major equipment purchases and transform how the hospital provides care, particularly in ambulatory services and inpatient settings, she said during the conference.

David Koffman, who was Webber’s doctor, said he was impressed that Webber kept his sense of humor no matter the medical situation he faced. Webber dealt with a series of illnesses for a few years before his death and most recently resided at Dirigo Pines, an assisted living facility in Orono, according to his obituary.

Webber’s late parents, G. Peirce and Florence Webber, were longtime donors to EMMC, and the Webber Building at the State Street campus is named after the family.

Support from people like Webber ensures that hospitals are able to keep pace with innovative tools and technology needed to provide high-quality care to patients, said Tim Dentry, Northern Light Health president and CEO, in a prepared statement.

Webber believed in sharing his resources and that citizens have the ongoing role of ensuring their community remains vibrant for future generations, said Steven Spetnagel, Webber’s nephew and executor of his estate.

Spetnagel, who traveled from Atlanta, Georgia, to be at the event, said his uncle was “not a spotlight kind of guy,” but he was brilliant, particularly about global investing, as well as appreciative and protective of the family’s legacy. He was a talented painter and made up songs on the piano that sounded like classical music, said Frank Bragg, a longtime friend and retired internist.

Webber loved his community, even in his death, which is clear from the organizations listed in his will, Spetnagel said. He brought a bag of walnuts to honor his uncle because part of his routine was feeding Bangor’s many squirrels.

Webber became one of the largest charitable contributors in the region’s recent history, and he will be remembered for generations for his stunning generosity, said Brad Coffey, St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation president.  

“The word share — S-H-A-R-E — is a wonderful word, isn’t it?” Spetnagel said. “Let’s all make that a wonderful course of action, like John did.”