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91-year-old man retires after volunteering 20+ years at Utah hospital

Posted at 5:57 PM, Apr 22, 2022

OGDEN, Utah — Twenty-two years ago, Roy Brownson Jr. had a heart attack and was treated in the intensive care unit at Ogden Regional Medical Center. It was then that he felt it was time for him to give back, and that’s exactly what he has been doing for the past two decades.

“I enjoy meeting with people. I’ve met so many wonderful people here,” Brownson told FOX 13 News Friday on his last day volunteering. “This is hard for me. But I’ve had… I’ve worked with so many wonderful young ladies and young men.”

Brownson became emotional as he talked about how much he’d miss his time each week at the hospital and all the wonderful people he was able to work alongside.

“I didn’t think I did a whole lot,” he said through his tears — but fellow volunteers and staff at the hospital sure thought he made an impact.

They threw a thank-you party Friday for him with balloons, cupcakes and flowers.

“He just has a true heart. He’s genuine,” volunteer coordinator Trudy Peterson said. “He does it because he wants to. He doesn’t do it for the notoriety, for fame — he does it because he has a good heart. He’s a good, kind person.”

Peterson said Brownson came to his volunteer shift each and every week despite physical ailments, which he said eventually forced him to call it quits.

“I’m just an old man that’s worn out,” he said. “I don’t want to quit, but I’m afraid it’s time.”

Brownson's wife passed away about six years ago, and since then, he said this is the place he’d like to be best. He was known at the hospital for giving special toys to the kids who were often there waiting.

“I had to go to the ICU once in a while, and I’d see little kids with their mothers just sitting there," he explained. "They’d have nothing to do but just sit there. So I go in [the gift shop], and they had little balls in there that light up, and I thought, 'What the heck, I’d just buy them and give them to the kids.'”

Peterson said she’d heard from Brownson's daughter that he’d spent about $900 of his own money over the years buying toys at the gift shop, but he says it was worth every penny.

“It was only money! If you can make a child smile, and some of these people don’t have a lot. And if you treat them, well, what I get back, it’s probably more than I ever give," he said.

Brownson said he had a hard time with COVID-19 — not for fear of the disease, but rather because hospital administrators wouldn’t let him come in to volunteer during much of that time.

He made sure to recommend to all retirees to try their hand as a volunteer.

“I’d say it’s the greatest thing you can do," he said.