A Quietly Remarkable Life
A lawyer by trade, Albert “Al” Ghirardelli made serving and giving back his lifelong avocation to the benefit of an entire community — many times over. By all accounts, a humble man who eschewed the spotlight, Al let his actions do the talking. Over the course of his nearly 98 years, Al never stopped serving. One of many notable results is Providence Holy Cross Medical Center itself.
A devout Catholic, Al seriously considered the priesthood in his youth. Although he ultimately followed a different path, Al retained a priest’s compassion and belief in his responsibility to help others.
Al was shot and severely injured during his service in the United States Infantry in Germany during World War II and endured nine months of rehabilitation. According to his son, David Ghirardelli, Al returned from the war with a heightened sense of purpose. “I think my dad’s core drive came out of his love of God,” says David. “He felt blessed and gifted by God, and he felt a responsibility to make people’s lives better. The overriding thing about my dad is that he truly did love humanity. He saw everyone as a gift from God, and this was always demonstrated by his actions.”
A lifelong commitment to community
In 1953, 29-year-old Al was galvanized by a tragic local plane crash that underscored the need for a hospital serving the San Fernando Valley. He organized a group to meet with the Sisters of Holy Cross and persuade them to construct and operate a hospital in the San Fernando Valley. Al’s vision and commitment led to building what was then known as Holy Cross Hospital in 1961.
According to David, this was characteristic of Al’s determination and community-mindedness. “He wore his heart on his sleeve, and if he believed in something, he was bound and determined to try and make it a reality.”
Supporting Providence Holy Cross Medical Center remained a passion for Al. He served as the hospital’s legal counsel and was a member of the Board of Directors for over 60 years. Known as a tireless booster for the hospital, many of Providence Holy Cross’ most significant donations have come through people connected to Al.
“Al chaired and was involved with numerous fundraising campaigns, successfully expanding the emergency department and building the new tower and the NICU,” says Michael Overing, Providence Holy Cross Foundation board member and Al’s former law firm partner. “Al’s commitment to the hospital was second only, perhaps, to the sisters charged with running this fine organization.”
In deepest gratitude
David shares that Al would be embarrassed by all the fuss. “He didn’t like being singled out for accolades and awards. He didn’t do it for that reason. He was very humble, but extremely proud of the hospital.”
For those who wish to honor Al by supporting the hospital he loved, please consider making a gift to the Al Ghirardelli Legacy Fund supporting Providence Holy Cross Medical Center by visiting supportholycross.org/AlGhirardelli.
“Al Ghirardelli was a true man of character who led by example,” says Kerry Carmody, former chief executive of Providence Holy Cross Medical Center. “Holy Cross would not exist without his leadership. Al Ghirardelli will forever be part of the DNA and the soul of Providence Holy Cross Medical Center.
Together, we can provide care that transforms lives, now and for years to come.