Lynne and Gary Sneed embracing on the shore of a lake

Dedication and Distinguished Service: Chairman Emeritus Gary Sneed

Beyond Magazine

Jun 28, 2021

This article was originally published in our Spring 2021 Issue of Brooks Rehabilitation Beyond Magazine. Subscribe online.

In many ways, Lynne and Gary Sneed are a lot like Brooks founder J. Brooks Brown, MD, and his wife of 78 years, Helen. They are partners in every aspect of life: soul mates; each other’s sounding board and rock; moving through life as a team. Another similarity the Browns and the Sneeds shared was a strong commitment to giving back to the community through donations and the gift of their time and treasures.

Their connection started when Lynne was hospitalized in 1989 due to an acute seizure disorder that began with headaches and memory loss. She was in a coma for 57 days. Gary was given a poor prognosis for her recovery and was advised to consider institutional care for the remainder of Lynne’s life. He refused to accept that recommendation and she was moved to Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital (then Memorial Regional Rehabilitation Center) for acute rehabilitation care. Her progress was slow but steady, and with her husband by her side working on her memory and mobility she had a recovery that was nothing short of miraculous.

Gary was so moved by the compassionate care and expert clinical treatment his wife received, he called founder and CEO Dr. Brooks Brown, to “thank him and offer our service as volunteers. We just wanted to give something back because they helped us so much.”

They planned a lunch meeting, and a friendship of 30 years began. Dr. Brown, an active listener and passionate about people and their stories, learned of Sneed’s business acumen and successes. He was aware of Sneed’s devotion to his wife and commitment to her recovery. Gary, who admits to being a little embarrassed that he didn’t already know about Dr. Brown and his work as a pioneer in Jacksonville’s medical and philanthropic community, listened to Brown’s vision for the future of rehabilitation services in Jacksonville and the region. They shared several core values: everyone deserves excellent health care treatment; all goals are attainable in organizations who treat their employees as their greatest asset; and the rehabilitation organization now known as Brooks needed to grow rapidly to meet the demands of the region.

Among Dr. Brown’s responsibilities, as CEO and board chairman, was networking in the community to ensure he was tapping the best and brightest leaders to serve on the governing boards of the system – the rehab hospital and its outpatient centers; the community foundation; the physician practice. It was a role he greatly enjoyed, and a skill for which he was highly regarded.

During that initial lunch meeting, he invited Gary to join the Brooks parent company board of directors, where he later served as both Vice Chair and Chairman. After years of service, Gary stepped down from the top role in 2016, while continuing to serve as a board member. Lynne Sneed was invited onto the board of the Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital, having a unique perspective as a patient of both the inpatient and outpatient programs, and someone who made a complete recovery from severe cognitive impairments. They are both generous about sharing Lynne’s story with others, and both are respected by employees for their unwavering dedication to the Brooks’ organization. Their endowment of scholarships, donations, and service are legend and they have forged friendships with employees, fellow donors, board members, and people in the community who are also Brooks alumni or are seeking treatment.

In Dec. 2020, Gary Sneed retired as a Brooks board member. In special recognition of his distinguished service, the board voted to appoint him as Chairman Emeritus. In a style that reminds many of his friend and mentor Dr. Brooks Brown, he remains humble about the leadership role he has played in the organization’s growth. This includes: expansion of service offerings and treatment locations, forging clinical research and educational partnerships, and something that he is most proud of – the high patient satisfaction scores and stellar reputation that are a result of excellent clinical treatment delivered in the same compassionate way his wife (and her family) were treated more than 30 years ago.

“High functioning governing boards are cultivated and led to blend their skills and talent to achieve the organization’s goals. Think of a good orchestra. This was something Dr. Brown taught me, and I’ll always be grateful for Gary Sneed. He has been a great Board member, a servant leader, an ambassador for Brooks Rehabilitation, and a friend to all of us.” said Doug Baer, President and CEO of Brooks Rehabilitation.

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