Rosalee and James McConnell, the parents of a highly respected former UT Southwestern faculty member, bequeathed $150,000 to endow a professorship in Alzheimer’s disease research at the medical center.
The gift to Southwestern Medical Foundation, which was made in the form of a charitable remainder trust, has created the Rosalee G. and James M. McConnell Professorship in Alzheimer’s Disease Research.
The McConnells’ son, esteemed urologist Dr. John McConnell, served on the faculty of UT Southwestern from 1984 to 2008, where he held positions as chairman of urology and executive vice president for health system affairs.
Mr. McConnell died in 2002, shortly after his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Concerned for their mother’s welfare, Dr. McConnell and his siblings, David McConnell and Julie Holt, began exploring investment options and making plans for her future health care needs.
“My parents had both worked most of their career for Amoco, which eventually became BP,” explained Dr. McConnell, who left UT Southwestern in 2009 to become the president and CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, an academic medical center that includes the highly regarded Wake Forest School of Medicine as well as one of the most prestigious health systems in the Mid-Atlantic region. “We learned at the time of my father’s death that they essentially had their entire life savings in the form of highly appreciated BP stock, which – if liquidated – would have been a major capital gains tax event. Working with Southwestern Medical Foundation, we set up a charitable remainder trust, to which we donated most of our mother’s stock. Over the next eight years, the remainder trust provided the income needed to pay for Mom’s skilled-nursing facility requirements and other needs.
“My brother, sister and I were attracted to the guaranteed nature of the income for Mom, as well as the opportunity to help other families who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease through patient care, research and education. Both of my parents had a place in their hearts for UT Southwestern and a real appreciation for the value of research, so my family felt that this contribution would be a ﬁtting tribute to both of them. Mom’s initial diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was made at UT Southwestern, and our family is very grateful for the professional care she received.”
Mrs. McConnell died in 2010.
Mr. McConnell had his college dreams short-circuited by World War II. Pursuing his love of science, he became a quality-control laboratory technician for a small reﬁnery in rural Kansas, where he and his wife raised their family. He eventually joined Amoco, where, at the time of his retirement, he was directing analytical testing services at the company’s large research facility in suburban Chicago.
Once the couple’s children were through grade school, Mrs. McConnell went to work as an administrative assistant at Amoco, and ultimately retired as assistant to the president of the company’s research and development division.