Memorial gifts supporting research honor husband’s career in education
By Susie Steckner and Ken Reinstein
Barbara and Jonas Lashmet devoted their lives to the field of education and supporting philanthropic causes. So when Jonas passed away from dementia, Barbara wanted the perfect tribute to honor her husband and leave a legacy.
She found just the right fit through Sun Health Foundation. In lieu of flowers, she requested memorial gifts to the Foundation benefiting Banner Sun Health Research Institute, a leading research organization dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The Foundation supports many programs and services in the West Valley, including serving as the exclusive fundraising organization for Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers, as well as the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing and many community wellness programs.
Memorial gifts in Jonas’ name came in from around the country. As Jonas’ longtime caregiver, Barbara is grateful for the work of the Institute on behalf of families battling disorders of aging.
“That is really what is needed, as far as I’m concerned,” Barbara says.
Barbara and Jonas lived much of their lives in Illinois, where they worked in different education arenas, and moved to Sun City West in 1990 to be closer to Barbara’s parents. Barbara’s mother was a passionate supporter of the arts and Barbara soon volunteered for various West Valley arts organizations.
“I’m not a sit-around-do-nothing kind of person, at all,” Barbara says with a laugh.
She dove in, volunteering for groups supporting the arts and education. She also decided to join a friend volunteering for Sun Health Foundation, assisting with the annual gala and other activities.
Jonas, whose passions leaned more toward golf and football, supported Barbara’s work in the community and gladly accompanied her to social events benefiting various charitable causes.
When Jonas was diagnosed with dementia, Barbara redirected her energy to caring for her husband and keeping him happy at home – a promise she had made to him. Over the years, as the couple walked this journey together, they were joined by friends and neighbors also battling dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“I had promised him that he would stay home with me for as long as I could. That was very important to him and we had a lot of help from Sun Health, including Marty Finley, the Sun Health memory care navigator,” Barbara says. “Marty was right there for me, whenever I needed it.”
Shortly before Jonas passed away, the couple visited Banner Sun Health Research Institute and met with Dr. Edward Zamrini, director of the institute’s Cleo Roberts Memory Center. Barbara was immediately impressed by the Institute and its mission.
“Memorial gifts, like those made in Jonas’ name, are vital to supporting the Institute’s work and all of the programs and services we support,” says Bonnie Olsen, development director for Sun Health Foundation. “As important, such gifts offer families the opportunity to create lasting legacies in the community.”
Bonnie notes that Sun Health Foundation works to support residents throughout their lives, offering everything from wellness and active lifestyle programs to health care to memory care services and aging-related research. Barbara says the work of the Sun Health Foundation is critical to the community.
“They do so much. I think it’s wonderful,” she says. “If every part of the Valley had something like that, it would be wonderful. They take on a lot of activities and a lot of responsibilities in our area, and that’s good.”