Last week, WSHA and AWPHD staff led our 43rd Annual Rural Hospital Leadership Conference in Chelan. The conference this year was marred by the news that Ben Lindekugel, Executive Director of the Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts, died unexpectedly two days before the conference began.
Ben absolutely loved the Chelan conference. As with everything he loved, he put his whole heart and soul into planning it. While he was not there in person this year, attendees saw his hand throughout the conference. They saw him in the way he promoted relevant and important topics, in the way he brought people together and in the way he made enough time for fun. It was absolutely surreal for our team to be there without him.
Ben was a man of tremendous heart. He was a warm, strong force for good at AWPHD and WSHA. His mission-driven dedication and desire to improve care in our state were inspirational. He was liberal with his praise and sharing of credit.
Ben derived equal enjoyment from achieving great success and from telling a funny joke. He was sarcastic and witty, and the sound of his big booming laugh echoing through our hallways was the sound of happiness. He had a big, goofy grin that wouldn’t quit, matched by the mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
Ben loved baseball, cooking, poetry and his family. He was a reliable and trusted counselor. Most of all, Ben was a treasured friend. I, along with everyone who worked closely with him, am heartbroken and in absolute shock.
Chelan 2020 was going to be his last Chelan as a staffer; he planned to retire in July 2020. That we mourned him at Chelan 2019 instead of celebrating with him at Chelan 2020 makes all of us who loved him feel cheated.
We are so very grateful to have known Ben and are dedicated to carrying on the work he held so dear. Thank you for all your love for Ben.
WSHA President & CEO