Sally and Larry Gurskey
To those who traveled the Big Band circuit, "Sonny" Smith was known for playing a mean set of drums. He came from a musical family. His father taught John Philip Sousa how to read music. Sonny's talent hooked him up with such legendary names as Gene Krupka and Benny Goodman. Later, after retiring from the Big Band circuit, Sonny worked at Allen Organ where he put his musical and cabinet-making skills to use designing and building world-class organs, among them, the organs in West Point Chapel and Radio City Music Hall.
To his daughter Sally, though, he was always just dad. So when Sonny, whose real name was Charles F. O. Smith, suffered a stroke at the age of 76, Sally wanted the best in rehabilitation care for him. Sally, and her husband Larry Gurskey, knew of Good Shepherd's reputation, and put her father's rehabilitation in their hands.
"There's nothing like it," Sally says of the extraordinary level of care her father received. "Everybody could not have been nicer. You have the best people working there."
Sonny recovered nicely and was able to resume life much as it was before the stroke. He later suffered a second stroke but lived until he was 88.
With no children of their own and deeply grateful for the care Sonny received at Good Shepherd, the Gurskeys decided to name Good Shepherd in their will. Their bequest honors Good Shepherd's staff and charitable mission, as well as The Rev. Dr. Conrad Raker, a good friend of Sonny's.
"We always thought that if somebody less fortunate could benefit from our gift, then that is what we wanted to do," Sally says. "The bottom line is, if you have a little extra, you can put it to good use at Good Shepherd helping people who really need it."