By Andrew Marton | Originally posted 8/24/21

Few people live a century. Dorothy Cullum made it with time to spare.

A lifelong resident of Dallas, she died at 101, having touched the lives of many. Her legacy includes four children, 17 grandchildren, 39 great-grandchildren, and eight great-great-grandchildren.

It also includes dozens of students at UT Southwestern Medical Center. And that number continues to grow.

Engaged in her community and an active philanthropist, Mrs. Cullum established two endowed scholarships to support the institution. A gift from her will to Southwestern Medical Foundation benefited the Dorothy R. Cullum Unrestricted Scholarship Fund. Both endowments are held and administered by the Foundation.

Dorothy Cullum was a big proponent of education and created a scholarship fund to help support medical students.
John M. Stemmons Sr. (left), Dorothy Cullum (center), and Bert Holmes (right) at the Senior Citizens of Greater Dallas 1995 Spirit of Generations Awards luncheon. Courtesy of the Dallas Morning News.

“Dorothy Cullum was a beloved matriarch of her large family and a true role model who demonstrated how to live life with purpose,” said Kathleen M. Gibson, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation. “She was a creative leader who inspired progress and change in the Dallas community. Her scholarship fund will ease the financial burden of medical school costs for future generations of UT Southwestern students so they can pursue their dreams with both passion and focus.”

Leaving a Legacy of Supporting Education

Mrs. Cullum was a member of The Heritage Society, an organization that honors donors who make a planned gift to UT Southwestern or Southwestern Medical Foundation. The scholarship endowments created by her gifts will be invested for the long-term benefit of UT Southwestern, and used to provide student scholarships. To date, more than 90 awards have been made with a combined impact of more than $134,000.

“The impact of an investment in the education of another person is truly infinite.”

Melet Leafgreen, Director of Student Financial Aid, UT Southwestern Medical Center

“Scholarships from our generous donors have an incalculable impact on UT Southwestern students,” said Melet Leafgreen, UT Southwestern Director of Student Financial Aid. “The impact of an investment in the education of another person is truly infinite.”

Education was important to Mrs. Cullum from an early age. Her father, a banker and educator, was the namesake of Dan D. Rogers Elementary School in Dallas.

Mrs. Cullum’s daughter, Sally Holmes, remembers her mother’s passion for supporting the Dallas community that came from being part of a family steeped in civic leadership.

“For as long as I can remember, my mother had a strong interest in medical issues,” Mrs. Holmes said. “I remember her volunteering in the emergency room at Parkland Hospital. When she developed the scholarship fund, she enjoyed meeting the scholarship recipients. She really enjoyed contributing to the students because she understood that so many of them were at school on a wing and a prayer and needed the financial help.”

Dallas business leader and member of UT Southwestern’s President’s Advisory Board William Solomon served with Mrs. Cullum on the Hoblitzelle Foundation’s Board of Directors. The two shared an interest in advancing the Foundation’s mission of supporting science, literacy, and education in the state of Texas, but he also remembered her as “quick-witted and fun to be with.”

Medical Student Impact

Dozens of students have benefited from Mrs. Cullum’s generosity, including Brock Hansen, M.D., who graduated from UT Southwestern in 2014 and completed his residency at the institution in 2018.

Scholarship recipient Dr. Brock Hansen

“I am grateful every day for the education and training I received from UT Southwestern,” said Dr. Hansen, an ophthalmologist with Utah Eye Centers. “The scholarship allowed me to afford medical school and focus on learning medicine and exploring career options rather than on how to finance my schooling. It helped me choose the field I preferred instead of the one that paid the best – what a blessing and privilege.”

Candace Wu Jackson, M.D., also received one of Mrs. Cullum’s scholarships. A 2018 graduate of UT Southwestern, Dr. Jackson specialized in internal medicine and completed her residency at the Mayo Clinic. While at UT Southwestern she received the Hemphill-Gojer Award in Internal Medicine. She also holds a masters degree in public health.

Scholarship recipient Dr. Candace Wu Jackson.

“Medical education is very expensive and can be cost-prohibitive for many applicants eager to pursue a career in medicine,” said Dr. Jackson, a cardiology fellow at the University of California San Diego. “I was very appreciative of the scholarships that UT Southwestern provided me as they helped to minimize financial strain and allowed me to focus on my medical career.”