Dr. Richard Mays Smith was a beloved internal medicine practitioner who was revered by many and took great joy in his role as an educator in academic medicine. In 1975, his family created the Richard Mays Smith Award in Internal Medicine, which has been given annually by Southwestern Medical Foundation to one or more graduating medical students at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The Award is given following medical school graduation to assist physicians who excel in internal medicine, both academically and during clinical rotations, and who exhibit a sincere interest in and compassion for their patients. Dr. Smith’s daughters, Betty Morgan and Tricia Beall, are thrilled that their father’s legacy continues to impact aspiring physicians through almost fifty years of annual scholarships.
Richard Mays Smith was born May 21, 1897, in San Antonio to the Rev. John Andrew Smith and Mary Sue “Mamie” Perryman. Raised on a dairy farm, he learned important values of responsibility, hard work, and respect for others. His passion for medicine developed during a time when impressive scientific developments markedly advanced the practice of medicine as well as the standing of physicians. In 1926, he graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, where he went on to complete a residency. He returned to Texas in 1929 to marry the love of his life, Elizabeth Lucille, and they settled in Dallas, where they raised three daughters, Betty, Susanne, and Tricia.
Dr. Smith became a prominent Dallas physician and an early pioneer of medicine. He served as chief of staff of the Dallas Medical and Surgical Clinic and Hospital and president of the DM&S partnership. From 1929-43, he served on the Baylor University Medical faculty; from 1943-45, he was an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Southwestern Medical School; and he served as a consultant on the medical staff at Baylor Medical Center from 1950-70. He held many leadership positions in the Dallas community for various civic organizations, provided health care to the underserved, and was a permanent member of the board of Highland Park United Methodist Church, where he had previously been chairman of the board of stewards and active in various other areas of the work of the church.
After suffering a stroke that took away his ability to speak and ended his career, Dr. Smith continued to live a happy life. He died on May 6, 1975, just five years after he retired from a 47-year career as an internal medicine physician. That year, his family established the Richard M. Smith, M.D. Scholarship Fund in his honor.
“We grew up in a loving, happy family”
Betty and Tricia have fond memories of childhood, when they were surrounded by the love of parents who adored their daughters and were grateful to each other and their big extended families. The girls grew up before the invention of televisions and often made up their own games like most children at that time. Having a physician for a father brought a new level of imagination to their playtime.
“We liked to play hospital with our dolls and had the only dolls in the neighborhood who came down with polio, rickets, or measles. We’d put a quarantine sign on the door, and nobody was allowed in. Our dolls were often on soft diets and medications. We had to do something to entertain ourselves, so that was our life,” said Tricia.
One of their favorite memories was making rounds at the hospital with their father and visiting with his patients.
Daddy never flinched when asked to do anything. I went on night calls with him and loved seeing how he treated his patients. He loved his work, and he was tender and very caring to his many patients.Betty Morgan
“He would say, ‘I wake up and I can’t wait to go to work. I love what I do. I’ve got the best job and the best family.’ He was so proud and grateful for his life,” said Tricia.
Preserving the legacy of Richard Mays Smith
Dr. Smith appreciated the value of education and the support he received from his uncle and others to help pay for his medical school education.
He paid everyone back and appreciated their generosity. He was very proud of his education. He was passionate about teaching the art of medicine to young men and women, and we felt by creating this scholarship, his wish would endure.Tricia Beall
Each year, Betty and Tricia look forward to Southwestern Medical Foundation’s presentation of the Richard Mays Smith awards to outstanding medical students at UTSW. Their families have made it a holiday tradition to support his legacy that is permanently etched as a part of UTSW through a fund in his name.
“His grandchildren adored him. It’s fun to listen to the stories they tell. It would be such a joy for him to see how they are happy to be together and love each other. Many of them support the fund because they want to do something that reminds them of the whole family. When Daddy taught at UT Southwestern, he was so hopeful that the institution would grow. I’m sure he would not believe how huge and sprawling the campus has grown. He would probably be so excited,” said Tricia.
For almost half a century, Betty Morgan and Tricia Beall have kept their father’s commitment to ‘the art of medicine’ alive by investing in education at UT Southwestern Medical School. This is a beautiful story of legacy and an example of how one man’s vision and example can touch the lives of so many people. We are honored to partner with this generous family in supporting future physicians.Kathleen M. Gibson, President and CEO, Southwestern Medical Foundation
Decades of Gratitude
The following messages are the voices of past recipients.
Cynthia Morton, M.D., 1983 Recipient
“The scholarship was a godsend! I borrowed money for most of my undergraduate degree, so the scholarship kept me from deepening my debt, and allowed me to concentrate on my studies (perhaps the reason I was first in class?!). With this support, I was free to follow my interests in public health and teaching. But perhaps more importantly, the scholarship was a needed vote of confidence in my abilities, a literal hand up. With all the talk of bootstraps and meritocracy, it really does take a village. This scholarship was a life changer, a start of helping others as I had been helped. I can only hope I have done as much for the next generation, and I have honored Dr. Richard Mays Smith in doing so.”
Clay Smith, M.D., 1984 Recipient
“I’ve tried to pay forward the support I received in medical school and elsewhere in my career by mentoring first generation medical students, training researchers and providers, and building clinical programs that put patients first and try to combine the most advanced technical skill with the most compassionate care. I am grateful to the family of Dr. Smith – their support, generosity and kindness made a huge difference in my ability to be able to contribute to medicine and hopefully do a bit to make the world a better place!”
Jason Zagrodzky, M. D., 1992 Recipient
“I sincerely appreciate the award I received. I still have it on my CV, and it’s been a source of great pride. I think of the many people who have helped me along the way. I don’t believe I could have accomplished as much without the Smith family’s generosity. I believe that the award helped me to achieve my training goals and allowed me to help many thousands of Central Texans. It’s remarkable how such a strategic gift can ripple through a community for many decades.”
A. David McCollum, M.D., 1995 Recipient
“I often reflect back on the solid foundation I was able to build as a medical student at UT Southwestern. It was a tremendous environment to learn, grow, and cultivate a love for the medical profession. Receiving the Dr. Richard Mays Smith award was a big part of that.”
An Lu, M.D., 2016 Recipient
“I’m always so proud to be a recipient of the Dr. Richard Mays Smith award. The scholarship definitely helped me financially, but also boosted my confidence and assured my interest in medicine. Since graduating medical school, I stayed at UTSW and completed my residency in Internal Medicine. I am completing my fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care this June and will be joining UTSW as an Assistant Professor in July in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care. I’m a UTSW lifer, and I am proud to be a part of this institution. I hope Dr. Smith’s family knows what a positive impact the scholarship had made on my career.”
Tyler Couch, M.D., 2022 Recipient
“I am unbelievably grateful to be one of the recipients of the Dr. Richard Mays Smith Award. The qualities that this award recognizes – clinical excellence and compassion – are two of the characteristics that I most admire in the physician role models that I have had here at UT Southwestern.”