To know Dr. France was to love Dr. France. The passion he had for Camp Aldersgate, its campers and the patients he treated as a doctor reminds us of the true spirit of Camp Aldersgate: “We must always put the children first and not ourselves.” – Dr. Gene France.
Dr. Gene France died peacefully on April 27, 2023, surrounded by his loving family.
A true champion for the campers we serve, Dr. France started volunteering at Camp Aldersgate in 1977 alongside Dr. Kelsey Caplinger, founder of our medical camps. Both men had a pivotal role in transforming Camp Aldersgate’s services into what they are today.
For over 20 years, he served as the board chair of MedCamps of Arkansas, Inc. until he retired in 2022 and was honored as an Emeritus Camp Aldersgate board member. His successors who co-chair MedCamps, Dr. Laura Hobart-Porter and Dr. Jason Dare, worked closely with Dr. France.
“He was truly inspiring. It takes two of us to try to do his job. I hope we can make him proud!” said Dr. Dare.
Dr. Hobart-Porter agrees that they have quite the legacy to follow. His dedication to Camp Aldersgate’s mission and his advocacy for children was admired by many, she said: “Dr. France taught us about how to weave together the delicate interplay of patient and child, how to keep our patients safe while still reveling in their growth and self-discovery. He had a firm but kind way about him that I continue to envy; he never had a moment’s hesitation about doing the right thing by all his kids at Camp Aldersgate.”
In June 2022, we had the privilege of featuring Dr. France in our summer newsletter. He shared some of his favorite memories and accomplishments surrounding Camp Aldersgate. Fundraising for the new accessible pool and helping Aldersgate receive a game-changing 12-million-dollar grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation were among the top of his list.
He also spoke about the importance of serving the underserved: “We serve the children who often have the least amount of service and interaction with other people other than their immediate caregivers or family. I think that’s a wonderful part of developing self-esteem and being aware that there are people who do care.”
Dr. France’s passion for children was evident and contagious. While our hearts are saddened as we mourn his death, Dr. France’s memory at Camp Aldersgate will live on in the many hearts he touched.
As we continue the good work that Dr. France was so passionate about, we are comforted and guided by his legacy. “His gentle smile and easy laugh I feel ever present, along with that pensive look when things weren’t quite right. Dr. France personified humility, self-sacrifice, and dedication, a constant advocate for his patients and a saint among men. I mourn his earthly absence, but I trust in the legacy he left behind. When I hear the wind in the pines, rustle of leaves, or rippling of the lake at the camp he loved so much, I’d like to think these are echoes of this wonderful physician who I was so blessed to know,” said Dr. Hobart-Porter.
To honor Dr. France, donations may be made to MedCamps of Arkansas, Inc. P.O. Box 55592, Little Rock, AR, 72215. MedCamps of Arkansas, Inc. directly supports Camp Aldersgate, Inc. with its funds.