MTMC leaders William Glover, Gary Arvin, Doug Archer, Pardeep Athwal MD and Charanjit "CJ" Singh review plans for the Betty Higgins Surgery Center.

The Wings of Freedom Foundation has doubled down on its contributions to Calaveras County’s local hospital, pledging $3 million in memory of founder Betty Higgins.

Last year, the Wings of Freedom Foundation gifted Mark Twain Medical Center (MTMC) its largest-ever donation—$4.5 million to begin renovations and purchase new equipment for its surgery department. The latest gift will further fund this project, and upon completion the hospital’s new surgery center will bear Higgins’s name.

“Betty was a long-term, quiet supporter of Calaveras County. This largest-ever donation to the Mark Twain Medical Center Foundation is a pioneering investment of $7.5 million which will help meet the ever-changing needs of our community tomorrow and well into the future,” stated Charanjit "CJ" Singh, Director of Philanthropy at Mark Twain Medical Center Foundation, in a news release.

Higgins and her husband, Sam, who is also deceased, have been recognized over the years by local entities including the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee for their financial support. The Higgins were also major benefactors of the recently constructed Angels Camp Medical Clinic.

The couple met just after the conclusion of World War II and lived on a ranch in Calaveras County for more than five decades.

“Sam was lucky to find (Betty) after surviving being on three ships that sunk in battle during the war,” Singh said. ““Betty grew up in the Midwest and during World War II moved on her own to Los Angeles to attend Otis Art Institute at the age of 17. She joined the war effort by applying her talent for art to doing drafting for the military.”

Later in life, Betty Higgins became a published author of children’s books and a “prolific” oil painter “with a love of working in her vast garden.” Her philanthropic support extended to veterans suffering from PTSD, scholarships for the children of fallen soldiers and the development of high-tech prostheses.

Singh continued, “Her respect and appreciation for those who gave so much for our country inspired the generous support of our veterans and their families.”


Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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