A historic $20-million donation from Archie Verspeeten, who passed away last weekend in hospital at the age of 92, will “propel cancer treatment to new heights,” according to officials with the London Health Sciences Foundation.
The money will go to the London Regional Cancer Program, which is being renamed in Verspeeten’s honour.
The donation is the largest ever to a hospital foundation in southwestern Ontario, according to the LHSF. Three of Verspeeten’s sons, Brian, Dennis, and Mark were on hand for the announcement this week.
In 2020, Verspeeten made a $3-million donation to the LHSF marking the creation of the Archie and Irene Verspeeten Clinical Genome Centre at London Health Sciences Centre, named after his wife of 66 years who died from cancer in 2017.
Two years later, Verspeeten made a second $3-million donation to the foundation in a pre-scheduled announcement that was preceded by the death that morning of his son Ronald, also from cancer. It followed the death of his son Alan in 2015 of cancer.
In a statement before his death, Verspeeten said the loss of his wife and sons “intensified my determination” to make a lasting impact in the fight against cancer. “I sincerely hope this contribution will not only advance efforts toward a cure but also enhance the quality of life for patients, allowing them to live comfortably despite the challenges of the disease.”
Speaking to media, Dennis Verspeeten explained how important the cause was to his father. “In dad’s last days he said, ‘I don’t care if I die on this day, you make sure you get your asses down there and do this. I am not going anywhere, but this has to get done. People need help,’” Dennis told the London Free Press.
Originally a tobacco farmer who branched out into trucking, Archie Verspeeten borrowed $800 in 1953 to start Verspeeten Cartage. In the the last 25 years of his life, he shifted his focus to philanthropy. In total, he donated over $27 million to the hospital.
A funeral mass was held on Wednesday at Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs Roman Catholic Church in Delhi, where Verspeeten lived his entire adult life.