Estate of Longtime Whitefish Residents Behind Hospital Nonprofit’s Largest Gift Ever

The $1 million gift will go toward the Logan Health Whitefish Foundation’s endowment at the Whitefish Community Foundation

By Mike Kordenbrock

The Logan Health Whitefish Foundation in January announced the receipt of a $1 million gift, which is the largest the nonprofit has received since its founding more than 20 years ago.

The gift came from the estate of longtime Whitefish residents Jake and Connie Heckathorn, both of whom passed away in recent years. The couple had met while attending law school together and arrived in Whitefish in 1954. Jake Heckathorn would go on to offer legal guidance and support to what was then North Valley Hospital over the course of decades during which he was also involved with the board of directors, and served as co-chair on the capital campaign for the construction of the new hospital in 2007. Connie Heckathorn was also an involved community member who spent time on the school and library boards. The couple lived into their 90s. Jake Heckathorn died in December 2019, and Connie died in March 2021.

Their daughter, Marti Heckathorn Bezdicek told Logan Health Whitefish she was glad her parents could help people with their donation and that the hospital had been part of her family for as long as she could remember. Her father loved hosting and going to the hospital’s Mash Bash parties.

“Sometimes that is all he talked about,” she said.

According to Logan Health Whitefish, the request was made that the gift be used for the foundation’s endowment at the Whitefish Community Foundation, where a Cheers For Volunteers Award will be used to annually recognize a community volunteer. The award draws its name from a Cheers for Volunteers newspaper column Jake Heckathorn had authored, and winners will be able to direct a $2,500 award to the charity of their choice.            

Money from the gift will also go toward a permanent endowment fund at the Whitefish Community Foundation’s supporting programs including the Great Fish Community Challenge. In a press release announcing the donation, Logan Health-Whitefish Foundation Executive Director Alan Satterlee called it a “tremendous gift to our organization” that “will forever be a legacy to the Heckathorn family and generate income for generations to come to support programs and capital needs of our local hospitals and clinics.”