PARIS — Friends, family and Spectrum Health staff gathered together on June 12 in Paris Park to congratulate and give Spectrum Health President Sam  Daugherty the perfect send-off.

Attendees signed a guestbook and left kind words, flipped through photos and dined on a selection of food items during the event before a program took place honoring Daugherty and his 21 years of service to the company. Daugherty is set to retire on Tuesday, July 1.

"It's very humbling," Daugherty said about the amount of support. "When it really boils down to it, I'm going to miss the relationships with the people. You don't realize until it's the end of your career how important those are. They are really the essence of life.

"I'll also miss the patients. Both hospitals don't get enough credit for what they do for those who are less fortunate in the communities. They are two great hospitals and both really made great strides over the years. There are some great physicians and people in the community that support the hospitals.

"We're really doing great things in the community and I will miss all of that."

During the program, Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba presented Daugherty with a proclamation from the cities of Reed City and Big Rapids for his work in bringing both communities together.

Supporters had warm words to say about the day's guest of honor.

"Sam kind of led us through conquering the great divide," said current Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital Board of Directors Member David Langworthy. "For years the hospitals competed. Now we're one together and better able to serve patients. Sam led  that effort and it's a good day to thank him for what he's done. He was able to bring everyone around the table."

Chuck Holmquist, chair of the Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals board of directors, believes Daugherty has done great things for Spectrum Health.

"I will miss his friendship, ambassadorship and the role model he's been for the entire organization," he said. "He's created a legacy that has provided the training for the rest of us. We're going to miss him, but now we'll have the confidence to move forward."