Hank Boerner, director of the North Mississippi Medical Center Wellness Center, Tupelo, MS, and a founding member of the Medical Fitness Association (MFA), died on Dec. 6, the MFA announced. Boerner, 57, died of complications from severe septic shock.
Septic shock occurs when an overwhelming infection leads to life-threatening low blood pressure. It can cause organs to fail and has a high death rate.
Boerner had been director of the North Mississippi Medical Center Wellness Center for 20 years. The organization has facilities in Tupelo, Pontotoc and Baldwyn, MS.
On a memorial page for Boerner, Steve Altmiller, president of the North Mississippi Medical Center, wrote: "Hank was Mr. Fitness to me. Every aspect of his being was to promote health, fun and innovation in fitness. His presence will be greatly missed, but his spirit of fitness will always continue to be present."
Boerner, who would have turned 58 on Dec. 16, was well-known in the community, partly because he contributed a weekly health segment on one of the local TV stations. Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. ordered flags in the city to be flown at half-staff the week of Boerner's death.
The mayor also issued the following statement: "Hank Boerner was one of the finest men I have ever known. He was the epitome of 'The Tupelo Spirit.' As co-chair of the Mayor's Healthy City Task Force, he has been leading our city's successful transformation into a place where our children and our adults can lead healthier, more productive lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Helen and his children. He will be greatly, greatly missed."
Not only was Boerner co-chair of the Tupelo Healthy Task Force, but he also founded Project Hope, a group that has raised close to $1 million for patients in Northeast Mississippi suffering from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Tupelo's Mission and Outreach Committee and a member of the First Presbyterian Clean Water and Medical Mission Team, which makes annual trips serving partner congregations in Guatemala.
"He was never fatigued when it came to the community and its health care needs," Ken Germano, executive director of the MFA, says. "A true and dedicated leader loved by all he touched."
Boerner had served on the MFA's board of directors for many years and had been a past chairman of that board. In 2011, the MFA presented Boerner with its Pioneer Award for his work to advance the wellness industry.
The MFA released this statement: "We have not only lost a Medical Fitness Association founder but a true pioneer, advocate and dear friend. He was selfless in his approach to always help and assist others in their lifelong pursuit of health and well-being. All of us who knew and worked with Hank realize the great loss we all feel but are happy to have had him in our lives for the time that we did."