Weatherwax Foundation Grants $1 Million to HFAH; Bullen Family Adds Substantial Gift

October 06, 2016

The Weatherwax Foundation has chosen Henry Ford Allegiance Health (HFAH) as the recipient of a $1 million foundation gift, and the family of Weatherwax Foundation Chairman Larry Bullen has also made a substantial gift to HFAH.

Both gifts will support the new Henry Ford Allegiance Center for Health Innovation & Education, a facility designed to meet the demand for rapidly changing medical training and learning practices. The new building will equip doctors, students, nurses, staff, researchers and first responders with the skills and information necessary to meet the highest standards of patient care.

“I’m pleased this gift will improve healthcare in our area,” says Bullen. “Through the education of medical students and ancillary personnel, the new facility should increase the availability of doctors in our community and elsewhere, as well as contribute to their education. It will better the health of the community and the health of the world.”

The relationship between the Weatherwax family, the Bullen family, and medicine in Jackson began decades earlier. Larry Bullen’s father, Rex Bullen, practiced medicine in Jackson from 1920 until 1974 and was the family physician for Clyde Weatherwax. Larry Bullen delivered the Jackson Citizen Patriot to Clyde Weatherwax and Clyde’s son, Kenneth Weatherwax, beginning in 1943.

Kenneth Weatherwax became a Michigan industrialist best known for starting Acme Industries, which produced refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. In 1959, Larry Bullen was practicing law in Jackson when the senior partner of his law firm asked him to review a document for Kenneth Weatherwax and his son, Peter Weatherwax, regarding purchasing land at the juncture of I-94 and U.S. 127. The site became Paka Plaza, the first regional shopping center in the area (now known as Jackson Crossing).

The relationship between Larry Bullen and the Weatherwax family deepened as Bullen handled the estates of all the family members and helped them establish the Weatherwax Foundation in 1981, a charitable organization dedicated to serving the Jackson, Michigan area.

When Kenneth Weatherwax passed away in 1988, Peter Weatherwax took over the Weatherwax Foundation until his death in 1996.

“I was completely blown away and flattered when Kenneth Weatherwax said, in 1981, ‘You’re going to run it, with Comerica Bank as the other trustee, after we are both gone,’” says Bullen. “I felt a great obligation to do a good job.”

As Chairman of the Weatherwax Foundation, Bullen, along with Comerica Bank, has helped distribute charitable funds to “promote and support successful community programs, classical culture and arts, family strengthening, and focused education,” according to the Foundation’s mission on its website.

The gift to the new Henry Ford Allegiance Center for Health Innovation & Education will commemorate Kenneth Weatherwax, Peter Weatherwax, Rex Bullen and Larry Bullen, who will be recognized through signs in the lobby of the new building.

“Rex Bullen and Larry Bullen both served on the board of Foote Hospital, the precursor to Henry Ford Allegiance Health, and their contributions to community health have endured for generations,” says Henry Ford Allegiance Health Foundation President Chad Noble. “We are so grateful for the support of Larry and the Weatherwax Foundation, which will foster medical advancement far into the 21st century.”

The Center for Health Innovation & Education will be a hub of pioneering practices, educational innovation, and on-site learning that will include simulation (SIM) rooms, a state-of-the-art control center, virtual exam rooms, classrooms, research space, and more. The work and learning in the new facility will guarantee that advances in patient safety, as well as personal and community health, remain Henry Ford Allegiance Health’s highest priority.

About Henry Ford Allegiance Health

Henry Ford Allegiance Health (HFAH) is a 475-bed health system in Jackson, Michigan. HFAH complements traditional acute care services with mission-based services to support the care continuum for all members of the community. Through its Health Improvement Organization (HIO), HFAH is also a national leader in forming community partnerships that innovatively address wellness and prevention needs in the community.

About Henry Ford Health System

Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) is a five hospital system headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. HFHS is one of the nation’s leading comprehensive, integrated health systems, recognized for clinical excellence and innovation. It provides health insurance and health care delivery, including acute, specialty, primary and preventive care services backed by excellence in research and education. HFHS is a 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient.