A magnolia tree and bench stand outside the emergency room of St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, a quiet respite from the trauma inside.
On Tuesday morning, hospital employees, law enforcement and fire personnel gathered to watch the tree and bench be dedicated in the memory of Dr. Thomas Babson, an emergency room physician at the hospital.
On Dec. 4, the 62-year-old Babson and his 8-year-old daughter Allie died in a house fire at their Fox Island home. They are survived by wife and mother June; daughter Katie; and son Tobey, Allie’s twin brother. The family was on hand to see the tree dedicated.
Babson traveled to small hospitals around the state, including Summit Pacific Medical Center in Elma, where he worked in the emergency room several times a month.
Katie and Tobey ceremonially watered and planted the tree at the dedication. Katie spread dirt around the base while Tobey used a watering can to water it. He then watered the flowers around the tree.
Coworkers of Babson from St. Anthony remembered a man who was kind, giving and generous. Human resources director Vicki Lackman said the summertime dedication had been in the works for awhile. The hospital wanted time to let the leaves grow in and the tree to stretch closer to the sky. The plaque calls Babson “hero, healer, colleague, friend.”
In addition to being a doctor, Babson was also a reserve deputy sheriff with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. Members of the department came out to pay respects at the ceremony.
The bench and tree provide shade and a resting place for those in the emergency room. Rev. Jo Nivling, who has been chaplain at the hospital for about a year, closed the ceremony with a prayer asking that “(the) space would be one to help people remember that there is hope and healing even at the most tragic of times.”