A Bequest and Two Books From a Grateful Patient

September 17, 2022

There are very few photos of Bob Peebles. An avid photographer, Bob was always the person behind the camera. He was attached to his three bulldogs and was happiest while outdoors—playing tennis, skiing, and fishing for trout in the Adirondacks, where his family had a summer home. But most of all, he loved his family and friends, and was extremely proud of his daughter.

According to his sister, Joan, Peebles struggled with mental illness for much of his life, beginning in his senior year of high school in the 1960s. When he died in 2020, he left a generous bequest to McLean—without restrictions, meaning it will support the full breadth of the hospital’s mission.

“When Bob felt like he was in trouble, when he knew he needed help with his disease, there was only one place in the world he wanted to go and that was McLean,” said Joan. “He knew it was the best psychiatric hospital in the country, and he believed in the treatment he got there.”

“Bob had been an annual donor for many years, so the bequest was the natural culmination of his decades of giving,” added Joan.

Joan also recently became a McLean donor and has included the hospital in her estate plans.

Photo of Bob Peebles
Bob Peebles

Although he lived most of his life in upstate New York, Bob had relatives in the Boston area, including his grandfather, a professor at Boston University, and his uncle, a physician affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard. When Bob became ill before his high school graduation, the family knew about McLean and it was a natural choice for treatment.

Joan, who coincidentally went to boarding school near the hospital at the time, used to visit Bob almost every Saturday. She remembers the record player he had in his room, and his request that she bring him a 45 record that was a hit that year—The Boy from New York City by The Ad Libs.

In the early days of the pandemic, Bob’s mental health began to deteriorate, so he sought treatment again at McLean. But because of some underlying physical health problems, the hospital was not able to admit him.

“I was at Bob’s house when he received a phone call from a social worker at McLean,” recounted Joan. “Although she knew he wasn’t going to be treated there, she called to check up on his welfare. I had tears in my eyes because the hospital cared about him, even though he wasn’t going to be admitted.”

Bob was also an avid and eclectic reader. After he died, Joan sorted through his large collection, giving some books to friends and family, and donating many boxes to the public library. But two particular books caught her eye, both histories of McLean Hospital. She knew exactly where they belonged and contacted the hospital to let them know she wanted to donate them.

Today, they’re in a small lending library in the cafeteria. “He had such high esteem for McLean, and I knew that’s where they would be most appreciated,” said Joan.

To learn more about legacy giving, please email Keith.

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