How our hospital in Willits came to be
In 1925, the Willits Development Association began discussing the need for a modern hospital. Working with the American Legion Post #174, they sponsored an old-fashioned celebration on the Fourth of July. The proceeds were designated for the building of a Willits Community Hospital. Charles S. Howard, owner of a nearby ranch (as well as owner of the racehorse "Seabiscuit"), was the first grand marshal of the Frontier Days Parade. The tradition of Frontier Days began as an annual fundraising event that has continued nonstop to today.
Just two months before the second annual Frontier Days, the son of Charles Howard, 15-year-old Frank R. Howard, was injured in a very serious automobile accident. The doctor was summoned, but, because of the seriousness of the boy's injuries and lack of a “real” hospital or emergency equipment, he was unable to save the boy.
The tragedy moved Charles Howard to donate the then-tremendous sum of $30,000 for the construction of Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital. The groundbreaking took place in 1927 and the first patient was admitted in 1928.