John Francis Bannon:

Lifetime Income While Honoring His Late Wife at UTMB

John Francis Bannon

John Francis Bannon created a professorship at UTMB to honor his late wife.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the "city of brotherly love," John Francis Bannon grew up an only child in an Italian family. With the Korean War facing his generation, John enlisted in the Air Force after college and served the United States for four years, and ultimately, as an instructor in the Air Force in Wichita Falls, Texas. He quickly fell in love with Texas-and more importantly, a beautiful woman named June, who hailed from Chickasha, Oklahoma, but who worked in Wichita Falls, as well. Never again would the two be apart-and a lifetime of love and shared interests guided them to places that shaped their wonderful adventures together.

All Roads Lead to Galveston

When June passed away tragically at the age of 48, just a few short months after receiving a devastating medical diagnosis, John sought comfort at a little place that he and June used as a getaway on Galveston Island. There, he would go fishing to heal from the loss of his soulmate and partner in life. According to John, "Life got to be really a question of, 'What am I going to do next?'"

A Galveston realtor suggested that John purchase The Original Mexican Café in Galveston, and even though his mother suggested he was crazy for considering it, he soon took to the restaurant business like a fish to water. He then decided to undertake extensive renovations and expansions to modernize it on the inside and restore the exterior. John says, "Boy, the people started coming. From that point on, it was gangbusters. It gave me a life. It was really good for me. I have to say that not only The Original, but also Galveston and its people helped me.

Gratitude for Galveston and UTMB

John always had a strong connection with the University of Texas Medical Branch, knowing three presidents in the history of the institution and countless students, faculty and staff members. He also frequents the Field House, which has kept him in excellent shape for all of these years. He feels great pride for UTMB and its reputation, asserting, "It's a damn good medical school and they graduate some sharp doctors. Without the university, there would be a whole section of Texas that would have no health services at all."

Because of John's gratitude for all that Galveston gave him after the loss of his beloved June-from The Original and UTMB's students, faculty and staff, many of whom were regular customers at The Original-and because of his respect and admiration for UTMB President Dr. David Callender, John wanted to create a professorship honoring his late wife. He knew the June Bannon Chair in Oncology would have meant a great deal to her and that she would have been pleased that he was doing it.

After selling his business, this passionate entrepreneur, who sees opportunity everywhere, knew that he had to make wise financial decisions for his later years rather than undertake a new business challenge.

Gifts to UTMB That Provide Retirement Income While Honoring June

John chose to use charitable gift annuities as the way to create the professorship. He first learned about charitable gift annuities through a gift to the Cleveland Clinic-and was so pleased with the lifetime income that he received in return for his gift that he was more than comfortable with this giving vehicle for his gifts to UTMB.

The charitable gift annuities with UTMB currently provide him with important income in his retirement, and he says, "For me it has been wonderful. I know that I will receive a set amount each quarter for the rest of my life with some great tax benefits."

UTMB and its donors receive strong returns on the solid investments of their charitable gift annuities made by the University of Texas Foundation-and donors like John receive a set amount each quarter for the rest of their lives, along with a variety of tax benefits.

In John's case, the corpus of each gift will ultimately serve to establish the June Bannon Chair in Oncology. He hopes to inspire others to support UTMB in ways that honor their loved ones through programs that are most meaningful to them.

It is clear that John embodies the spirit of Galveston, where people are drawn to the healing spirit of the water-and the healing care of UTMB. As one considers the Isak Dinesen quote, "The cure for anything is salt water-sweat, tears or the sea," John certainly believes this to be true for him-and for many others who have benefited from the dedication of UTMB to the future of health care through education and service.

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