Historical marker unveiled to honor benefactor of Liberty hospital

Liberty County Hospital District No. 1 Vice President Paul Henry and President Bruce Stratton pull away the drape covering the historical marker honoring the remarkable life of the late Yettie Kersting. Looking on are Liberty County Historical Commission Chair Linda Jamison and Hospital District Treasurer Victor Barranco.

Liberty County Historical Commission members, along with representatives of the Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center, Liberty County Hospital District #1 and county officials, gathered on Monday, June 28, to unveil a historical marker honoring the late Yettie Kersting.

Kersting, a Liberty businesswoman who died in November 1941, donated her estate for a hospital in Liberty that would all people, regardless of their race and ability to pay for services.

“It was Miss Yettie’s lifelong desire to leave her estate to benefit her fellow man and she was resolved to do so by accomplishing her dream to establish a hospital, one that would not refuse patients based on skin color or financial circumstances.  Her vision came to fruition in 1935, when at the age of 72 she decided to leave the bulk of her estate to the people of Liberty County, with the stipulation that it be used for establishing a hospital,” according to a history written by Liberty County Historical Commission Chair Linda Jamison.

Liberty County Historical Commission members, board members of Liberty County Hospital District No. 1 and staff of Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center gathered on Monday, June 28, for an unveiling of a historical marker on the Travis Street side of the hospital. The marker honors the life of the late Yettie Kersting.

Before her death, she transferred the deed to her properties, along with other investments, to the County under the care of a board of trustees.

“In 1940, construction of one unit of the hospital was started at a cost of $18,000.  At the time of its completion the following year, Miss Yettie, a woman of her word, promptly deeded it to the county.  This first hospital-clinic, which was located where the First Liberty National Bank now stands on Sam Houston Street, was dedicated on Oct. 18, 1941, and ironically received as its first patient, Miss Yettie Kersting.  Five weeks later, she died in the hospital she had founded and gave to ‘the relief of suffering humanity,'” according to Jamison.

The community eventually outgrew the original hospital, which led to the construction of a newer, expanded facility at the corner of Travis and Magnolia streets, built at a cost of $400,000 and dedicated on Aug. 12, 1951. Originally called the Yettie Kersting Memorial Hospital, the new facility is now known as Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center.

Seventy years later, the community is quickly outgrowing the hospital, leading the Hospital District #1 to now be considering construction of a new hospital at the corner of SH 146 and FM 1011 on a large, donated plot of land. If the hospital is moved to the new location, the historical marker will also be relocated.

Speakers at the event included Jamison, Liberty County Judge Jay Knight, Liberty Mayor Carl Pickett and Paul Henry, vice president of the hospital district board.

The Commission continues its work on more historical markers to recognize landmarks in Liberty County; however, Jamison said the dates for those marker unveilings will be in the fall.

To read more on Yettie Kersting’s life, go online to:

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