Brownwood Regional Medical Center celebrated its 50th birthday Thursday morning in a fete that began with the dedication of the hospital’s new entryway sign and ended with recognitions and remarks from people connected with the hospital.

“This is a big day for Brownwood, for Brown County,” BRMC Chief Executive Officer Jace Jones said.

The new sign was dedicated to the 1969 Brown County Hospital Authority Board of Trustees and Auxiliary, and several family members of the board and auxiliary were present to receive plaques of recognition.

Jones said a 50-year time capsule containing photos, drawings by employees’ children and medical instruments and supplies were placed inside the new sign.

A large crowd watched as representatives of the Brownwood and Early chambers of commerce held a ribbon cutting to dedicate the new sign outside the hospital. Guests then moved inside and funneled down a hallway to an open area for the rest of the celebration.

Scrapbooks and other memorabilia were spread out on a countertop which many guests stopped to view.

Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes said he and his three children were born at BRMC — which was originally known as Brownwood Community Hospital — and Haynes read a proclamation declaring Thursday as BRMC Day.

“It is important that we have leaders who have a vision and have the know-how and ability to put it together and make it happen,” Haynes said.

American Hospital Association representative David Pearson said it’s important for hospitals to have community support and partners.

“I can’t overstate the importance of having a hospital in communities of this size,” Pearson said. “As you all are well aware, there are a lot of hospitals that have closed lately. That is the heartbeat of the community and thankfully the heartbeat goes on in Brownwood.”

Representatives of the offices of U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway and state Sen. Dawn Buckingham also offered their congratulations and recognition of BRMC’s 50th birthday.

“Like Stephen, I was born here and had three babies here,” Conaway staff member Hilary Stegemoller of Brownwood said. “This place has been a place of celebration for our family, and we’ve had some sad stuff happen at this place where you get some crummy news.

“In good and bad, we have had excellent care and all you could ask for. Brownwood is so blessed to have the physicians and nurses, and everywhere in between, step in and do big things in big times in our lives.”

Former Brownwood Mayor Bert Massey, who is on the hospital’s board of trustees, said he was born in Brownwood Memorial Hospital, which no longer exists. Massey said another hospital that no longer exists, Medical Arts, was also in Brownwood at that time.

“I spent a lot of time when I was mayor of Brownwood trying to promote economic development,” Massey said. “You have to have certain key pieces to attract business and industry to a community. One of those key pieces is medical care and a hospital that can provide everything from crisis care to some degree of care for disease or injury.

“Most communities our size don’t have a hospital like this, and though there are some that do, the facilities are old. Whether old or new they’re closing because they can’t compete financially in the modern medical world. And this facility can.”

Jones returned to the microphone to conclude the celebration.

“I think what’s kept Brownwood Regional here 50 years is the people, not only who worked in the hospital but in the community as well,” Jones said.

“What we’re really here to celebrate is men and women of vision, who decided that we needed to have one hospital to carry us forward into the next century. And they’ve done that. And on top of that we’re here to celebrate an auxiliary that helps provide the compassionate care that we’re known for here at Brownwood Regional.”