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Legacy Society Member Heidi Huglin-Deane

Heidi Huglin-Deane, Dr. Ronald Latimer and Dru HartleyNearly 30 years ago, Dr. Ron Latimer became Heidi Huglin-Deane’s bedside angel. As a young woman, she spent three months at Cottage Hospital after a lengthy surgery. The special care she received from her Sansum Clinic surgeon made her remember his kindness long after their first meeting. “He literally saved my life,” she explains. “He always had a smile for me and never made me scared. He’d visit my room and make me laugh.” 

Dr. Latimer retired in 2010 and created the Visiting Professor of Surgery program to provide expert educational seminars for practicing Santa Barbara surgeons and physicians. One academic week a year, a prominent national or international surgeon resides in town so surgical residents and others in the local medical community can interact with a leader in their field. Heidi made a provision in her estate plan to Sansum Clinic specifically for the Visiting Professor of Surgery Program, in honor of Dr. Latimer, because he had positively impacted her life. 

Born and raised in Santa Barbara sixty years ago, Heidi and her family built relationships with Sansum Clinic doctors from the time of her childhood to the more challenging end of her parents’ lives. She’s saved hand-written letters from several physicians who impressed her with their efforts to reach out personally. That includes Dr. Kurt Ransohoff, CEO and Chief Medical Officer for Sansum Clinic, who cared for Heidi’s father, Pat Huglin. When her elderly dad moved from his longtime home to the Valle Verde senior living center, his health and memory deteriorated. He’d regularly ring up Dr. Ransohoff to discuss his condition. “My brother and I would laugh,” Heidi recalls. “We knew he must be driving Dr. Ransohoff nuts. He was a very good and kind man to take those calls.” 

It’s not easy managing the sea of symptoms that accompany multiple sclerosis, but Heidi has consistently chosen to not let the disease define her. “I am a sunshine person,” she exclaims. Heidi is an active patient who defies many of the preconceived notions about what a life with MS should look like. “I think a large part is in your mind. Attitude and exercise, it really works,” she stresses. As a devoted student of Pilates classes, she works hard to increase her strength and flexibility. She takes regular long walks around her Los Olivos neighborhood with her two dogs and husband of more than 30 years, Andy. The couple met when Heidi was a single girl cruising Mexico on the original Love Boat and Andy was a British junior officer. They’ve been traveling the globe ever since. While she camped throughout the U.S. with her siblings during her father’s sabbaticals from his position with Santa Barbara City College, she caught the Euro-travel bug during high school when she lived with an Italian family as part of a summer immersion program. Austria is her favorite country abroad and she relishes attending opera and music performances in Vienna. She and Andy also visit his parents every other year in England. Heidi dismisses any concerns over traversing large airports and easily arranges for wheelchair service to keep from tiring. One year ago she went to Las Vegas by herself to see Barbra Streisand. It was a big deal to do this solo adventure and she was quite proud of herself. The trips are invigorating but coming home is therapy itself. The views of the Santa Ynez mountains and tall trees in her yard bring back memories of happy times as a girl playing in the High Sierras. “It’s very peaceful,” she says. “There are so many beautiful, simple things in life. I would suggest you do what makes you feel at peace.” 

The process of creating her estate plan was not a daunting task, according to Heidi. “I enjoyed every minute of it,” she notes. “Dru Hartley, Sansum’s Director of Philanthropy provided guidance every step of the way not only with my provision to the Clinic but also to other nonprofit organizations.” Heidi found comfort knowing it all would be settled before she “goes to the heavens in the big sky.” She’s not bitter about having to deal with shots or other discomforts that surround her disease but rather lives to plan the next day and the next trip. She takes pleasure in discovering a way to channel her gratitude for her good health and her doctors into something permanent and lasting. “My philosophy in life is, there is always someone who has it worse than you,” says Heidi. “I can’t thank Sansum’s physicians, nurses and medical staff enough for decades of expert care and compassion.”

Pictured left to right: Heidi Huglin-Deane, Dr. Ronald Latimer and Dru Hartley