The siblings’ father, Richard D. Bass, was a businessman, rancher, and mountaineer who owned the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. He was the first human to climb the “Seven Summits,” the tallest mountain on each continent, and introduced his children to adventure in the great outdoors. He died in 2015 after a lengthy illness with pulmonary fibrosis.
Believing that every disease is a part of life’s journey and a hardship that everyone endures, the siblings embraced the opportunity to walk alongside their parents during their final years.
As Mrs. Moroney highlighted, “We were glad to have had that time with them. We nurtured them the same way they nurtured us growing up. We spent extensive time with each of them, which strengthened our relationships with each other in a wonderful way. I have so much pride and admiration for Bonnie and Jim. We have raised our children, and now we get to spend time with each other, first as caregivers and, with this gift, as philanthropists reaching our arms out into the community.”
Mr. Bass describes how each generation strengthens his family’s legacy.
While we grew up, our parents were making a difference in our community and in building businesses that celebrated family togetherness. They came from families that emphasized integrity, academic achievement, hard work, and giving back to one’s community as guiding principles for living a good life. Our parents passed those principles on to us, as we are trying to do with our own children.
He appreciates the valuable life lessons he gained through interactions with previous generations of philanthropists and leaders.
“Prior generations of family, friends and acquaintances taught us important lessons by example. They were leaders and contributors in our community, making a huge difference. On many occasions after a conversation, I remember walking away thinking ‘I want to give back to our community.’ They told us how important it is to share stories with younger people about being responsible in caring for their communities. Their ‘can-do’ attitude greatly impacted me,” said Mr. Bass.
Every December, Barbara, Bonnie and Jim ask their children to each designate a charity to receive a gift from the family’s foundation so they can learn about each other’s interests and experience helping others.
Hopefully through each generation of giving, we can make a difference. We can contribute to research scientists, doctors, and others who have the tools to better the world today and tomorrow.
Bonnie Bass Smith
Longtime friends of Southwestern Medical Foundation
The family has supported Southwestern Medical Foundation and UT Southwestern Medical Center for many years. Along with gifts from their family foundations, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Moroney, and Mr. Bass have made personal gifts to create the Rita Clements Center for Clinical Research in Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Rita Clements Chair in Brain Research to support depression/bipolar and Alzheimer’s translational research. Mrs. Smith is also an active member of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and she sits on the Campaign for the Brain Steering Committee to ensure success of the O’Donnell Brain Institute.
“Our parents taught us to be independent individuals and wanted us to pursue our lives as they pursued theirs. I have so much joy in being able to gift from our parents’ estates. It is really an extension of their successful lives and their philanthropic desires. We have been fortunate to be able to disburse the funds, while also giving from our own resources. We have enjoyed doing it together,” said Mrs. Smith.
The legacy of this wonderful family has inspired me for many years. Like their far-sighted and accomplished parents, Barbara, Bonnie, and Jim have embraced the opportunities they have to lead in service to community, serve as example to others, and make strategic investments so that our community can thrive and prosper. We are tremendously grateful for their generosity, leadership and support.
Kathleen M. Gibson, President and CEO, Southwestern Medical Foundation
Read more of our 2020 Planning Matters Fall series: