Longtime Carson City residents Bill and Louise Goni contributed $150,000 toward Carson-Tahoe Hospital's new cancer center, to be built near the hospital's new regional medical center in northwest Carson City.
Bill Goni is 87 and has leukemia, but he hasn't given up tennis or horseback riding. He still has an easy smile.
"I'm a Depression kid," he said. "I never dreamed I'd have a dime to give away. But I feel we're in a position now to give something back to the community. Contributing to the new hospital is one of the best ways to do that."
The money will be used to develop the Bill and Louise Goni Healing Gardens, which will include paths, fountains and special places for meditation. Special areas will be used for patient infusions in good weather, said Edythe Garvey, director of Carson-Tahoe Cancer Services.
"We aren't just talking about a nice garden," she said. "Some of the plants to be incorporated into the landscaping, like vinca, are used in making medicines. We have a vision of a natural healing area, a place for groups to meet with places to sit and reflect, a place where people can get back to nature."
The son of sheep rancher, Bill Goni spent much of his life outdoors.
He was born in North Carson City in 1915. His father died in 1929 and Goni took responsibility for the sheep ranch in the 1930s. He quit ranching in 1965, then became a county commissioner for one four-year term, from 1966 to 1970.
"I wanted to run for another term, but Louise had other ideas," he said. "She wanted to travel."
Time may have taken their youth, but not the twinkle in this couple's eyes as they exchange one-liners in their ranch home.
"I'm 87," Goni said with a smile. "She's 88. She'll be 89, in July."
Louise Goni is from Elko and her parents were the owners and proprietors of The Star Hotel in Elko. A legal secretary, she worked for Supreme Court Justices Errol Taber and Milton Badt, before retiring in 1964.
The Goni's have no children. They live on 10 acres in Carson City among expansive fields. Their two horses, an Arab and a Tennessee Walker, graze outside.
Their contribution brings the total donations to $2.8 million for the cancer center, a campaign that started just six months ago. The center is expected to cost between $12 and $14 million.
Ground breaking for the building is expected in the early fall, a couple of months after ground breaking for the main hospital, Garvey said.
"This is an exciting time," she said. "I think community will be very pleased with the new facilities. We are creating an inviting, peaceful, healing environment."