Tribute Giving: Honor and Memorial Donations

A gift in honor of someone is a unique expression of gratitude

Whether celebrating a special occasion, a milestone, or a life well-lived; a gift in memory or honor of someone is a unique expression of gratitude. We appreciate the special privilege of accepting these tributes on behalf of Hennepin Healthcare.

These gifts serve to strengthen our ability to provide exceptional care without exception. You may also designate a program meant for the recipient of your tribute. With your permission, we can also inform the honoree or memorial family of your gift. Please complete our donation form to share your preferences.

Generosity happens here because our donors share in the beauty of the human experience and all its possibilities. Thank you.

Language for Obituaries

Donations for Hennepin Healthcare can be mailed to Hennepin Healthcare Foundation, 701 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55415 or donated online at

For information on creating an endowment, contact:

Chad Boysen, Director of Development

[email protected]


Beloved Nurse Receives Lasting Tribute: The Transplant Mary Lee Hanson Memorial Fund

Humble, knowledgeable, generous, and compassionate are how patients and co-workers described Mary Lee Hanson, a nurse of 41 years. She spent most of her career at Hennepin Healthcare in the kidney transplant program and the orthopedics department at Hennepin Healthcare.

After Mary Lee passed away in November 2020, the fund for kidney transplant patients was renamed in her memory as the Transplant Mary Lee Hanson Memorial Fund.

Sarah Schuh, a transplant social worker, said the fund was perfect to name after Mary Lee because she was a great advocate for patients. Originally called the transplant fund, it was created to help transplant patients pay for medicine, but has since expanded to other needs such as meals or transportation.

“This fund has helped so many people and Mary Lee was generous and helped so many people,” Sarah said.

As a nurse, Mary Lee is remembered for her determination to provide patients with the best care possible.

“Everyone knew that if Mary Lee was responsible for something, it would be taken care of,” Sarah said. “She was just so generous with helping everyone – patients and co-workers.”

Mary Lee Hanson

Jenny Bodner, living kidney donor transplant coordinator, recalled how Mary Lee always carried notes about her patients. She also loved to learn and to teach her patients and co-workers.

“She was always looking at different articles, different conferences, trying to teach people as they came into the clinic,” Jenny said. “She was really so knowledgeable. We used to call her the walking PDR (prescriber’s digital reference) of the transplant unit.”

Mary Lee was also known for her great network of contacts for her patients – anyone from social workers, dietitians, nephrologists, and primary care physicians.

“Many patients would beg to get Mary Lee because they knew she would go out of her way to get what they needed,” Jenny said.

Mary Lee’s determination also carried over to her work as the president of the Midwest Heartland Chapter of the International Transplant Nursing Society. When the chapter was planning its conference, Mary Lee was determined to get a headliner for the speaker. She was successful – Louie Anderson, a comedian from St. Paul, agreed to speak at the conference.

Beyond being one of Hennepin’s best nurses, Mary Lee was active as a gardener, a reader, a cook, a traveler, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. “She was always sharing her cooking and her flowers – inviting people to dig up hostas and or gifting friends with funky items from estate sales,” Sarah said.

Sarah laughed when thinking about how Mary Lee would feel about having the kidney transplant fund renamed after her.

“She would say ‘That’s ridiculous. Little me?’ She didn’t know the depths of impact she had,” Sarah said. But, there has been a huge influx of donations in her memory from patients and co-workers.

“A small amount can make a big difference,” Sarah concluded.

You can make a tribute gift in memory of or in honor of someone when you make a donation to any program at Hennepin Healthcare. The Hennepin Healthcare Foundation welcomes a conversation if you are interested in renaming an existing fund or establishing a new fund after an individual. Contact [email protected] or call 612-873-6090.

Why We Gave in Memory of Cole Kerr Hillenbrand

Our family has been East Lake Clinic patients for 22 years and Eileen Kerr, Physician's Assistant, has known us the entire time. She was our matchmaker, and then midwife and we bestowed her last name as our son Cole’s middle name. When Cole was three-months old he had seizures. We were led to Hennepin Healthcare’s pediatric neurology department where we found treatment.

Eileen Kerr’s family and ours grew, sharing milestones, holidays and playtime. We shared the news with her when he graduated from South High School, was accepted into MCTC, had earned his Registered Massage Therapist license from CenterPoint Massage School, and the fateful day in 2015 when his seizures returned. It was Eileen’s combination of healthcare provider, family friend and neighbor that helped our family navigate through it all. Hennepin Healthcare isn’t just buildings. It is made up of people who serve.

Cole July 2020 For Hillenbrand

Losing a child is a heartache like no other. Losing an adult son or daughter is a complex pain on its own level. When we lost our dear son Cole at age 27, it was a gut punch. He had just found his passion, purpose and people. Cole was a kind and gentle spirit who learned therapeutic massage techniques to help people arrive at balance. He was complemented as a natural intuitive healer who had the power of touch, compassion and presence far beyond his years. When his seizures forced him to concentrate on his own healing, he found support in his Corcoran community until he passed in 2018.

In recent weeks, when the East Lake Clinic succumbed to fire and water damage, we wanted to help heal the community Cole loved so much. By making a memorial gift to the Clinic restoration, it completed a circle to honor him as a healer while helping our healing as well. That would have made Cole smile. We loved his smile.

That is why we give. 

Al Hilenbrand and Janet Etten, grateful patients and parents