Day's widow touched by largess of friends Fund-raiser pays bills, leaves her with cushion

March 03, 1997|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

Geraldine Day lay back on her couch and said she is thankful. The widow of late Hall of Fame pitcher Leon Day was in such financial difficulty a month ago that her friends put together a fund-raising benefit in her honor, and it is only now becoming clear to her how much concern people have for her well-being.

"Really, there are no words to tell how nice people have been to me," she said. "There are a whole lot of good people out there. I wish I could personally give each one a hug and a kiss. What they've done is put me back on level ground -- above level ground."

A benefit dinner and memorabilia auction last month was attended by 300 people and raised enough money to pay all her outstanding medical and personal bills and create a safety net of about $10,000.

Among the biggest contributors were members of the St. Agnes Hospital staff who cared for Leon Day during his final illness. The hospital presented Geraldine with a poster collage of photos from Leon's days at the hospital and from the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in which Geraldine read his speech and with a check for $5,000.

In addition to that, 94 Sun readers sent donations in care of the sports department that totaled $4,221. The donations sent to The Sun were delivered to Geraldine Day on Friday. The money raised by the benefit is being held for her in a tax-exempt fund by the Negro Leagues Baseball Players Association.

"We did good," said Bob Hieronimus, the organizer of the benefit. "She's been on 45 percent disability for the last four weeks because of her health, and this money goes a long way toward relieving some of the stress she feels."

Day suffers from multiple health problems brought on by treatment she has undergone for bladder cancer. She said she had hoped to return to work at the Weyerhaeuser Paper plant in Dorsey this week but is still too ill to do so.

"My goal is to get well so I can enjoy the peace of mind so many people have made possible for me," she said.

Pub Date: 3/03/97

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