Winfield M Campbell, Sr.
From Stingrays to X-Rays: A UTMB Parent's Story
When a family beach vacation in Galveston led Winfield "Win" M Campbell, Sr. to UTMB's Emergency Room with his young daughter, Molly, who was coping with the excruciating effects of a stingray sting — he had no idea that he and his family would one day become deeply connected to the institution.
Thankfully, Dr. Tom Oley, an orthopedic surgeon and UTMB alumnus, was next door to the house they had rented in Galveston, and he told Win to put Molly's foot in the hottest water she could tolerate — and then get her to the ER at UTMB quickly. Win and his wife, Lynn, were grateful for the treatment their daughter received at UTMB — but still, they didn't connect the ER experience at UTMB with the extraordinary medical school they would discover many years later through their son, Winfield "Winfield" M Campbell, Jr.
As a University of Texas at Austin "triple threat" alumnus, Win knew of UTMB. "I had a lot of classmates at UT, who went on to UTMB...and at that time, Southwestern, UTMB, Baylor were the medical schools in Texas. I always knew it was `down there' [on Galveston Island]." However, with advanced degrees in accounting and law, the legal career track that Win followed, didn't prepare him for the medical journey that Winfield would one day take — a windy path that ultimately led his son directly to UTMB, where destiny seemed to pave the way.
FROM THE FOOTBALL FIELD TO THE OPERATING ROOM
Football injuries at Middlebury College that led to surgeries on both knees, gave Winfield a keen understanding of the impact that sports injuries can have on one's body. When Dr. Sherwin Siff, an orthopedic surgeon, who performed the surgery on one of Winfield's knees after his freshman year in college arranged a summer job for Winfield as a nursing care assistant (operating room orderly) at St. Luke's Hospital, Dr. Siff also allowed him to scrub in occasionally and observe surgeries. Those experiences, along with a college summer externship at the Texas Heart Institute, where he observed multiple operating rooms and more during the summer with the likes of Drs. Denton Cooley, David Ott, and Bud Frazier, opened Winfield's eyes to the world of medicine.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE
Often in life, the things we want the most are the hardest to attain. This was the case for Winfield's road to UTMB. According to his father, "Winfield had a good time in college, played football...it was going to be difficult to get into medical school. He applied to every medical school in Texas. He worked for two years as a coach [at St. John's School, his alma mater], and then as a trainer for a year — and he tried to play football in the NFL, and when that didn't work out, he thought about going to medical school. He got onto the waitlist at UTMB (his only option at that point), received the letter on July 2nd that he had been accepted, and he had to start on August 1st. We drove to Galveston, he bought a house and he moved. His Mom and I were thrilled [for him]."
Win and his wife, Lynn, didn't visit Winfield very much during his time at UTMB — not because they didn't want to visit, but , because he studied all of the time. "He was very dedicated," Win said. Win remembers walking into Winfield's house on the corner of Trout Street and Ferry Road, where he saw signs of Winfield's dedication. Win explains, "He turned one bedroom into an office, he had white boards on all the walls and colored markers. The white boards were covered with formulas and diagrams, all color-coded...I couldn't understand them, but it was obviously all about how various human biological processes worked. He studied all the time. He had a dog, Wizard, who slept at his feet while he studied. The truth is…that's what he did."
While this does not surprise most parents as they watch their children undertake a medical school track, this took Win by some surprise. "Winfield had just below a B average in college — but from the outset at UTMB he was never less than number 1, and he graduated number 1. He had a hard time getting in, but once he got in...truth is, we didn't do anything, it was his responsibility [to do well]. He [Winfield] is the first doctor in the family...and may be the last. It's always beneficial to have a doctor in the family, and they know other doctors."
According to Win, "Winfield's first course was Gross Anatomy — I think it was a good thing that UTMB's classwork was organized like the block system. His first professor was Claire Hulsebosch, and in his first course he made something like a 102. Dr. Alan Baum and I were fraternity brothers at UT — and I saw Alan in October after Winfield's first class in Med School — and when I told him about the grade he scored in Gross Anatomy, he said to me, 'No he didn't...nobody does that!' and I said, ' Yeah, he did!'" To this day, Win beams when he thinks about Winfield's extraordinary level of achievement at UTMB.
COMING FULL CIRCLE — ATHLETE TURNED ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON
Winfield completed a sports medicine fellowship after his residency with Drs. Tommy Clanton and Leland Winston, the legendary orthopedic doctors for athletics at Rice University. This pivotal experience brought Winfield that much closer to the sports he loved, especially football — but this time, as a doctor. When Dr. Clanton moved to Vail, Colorado — Dr. Winston asked if Winfield would step into Dr. Clanton's role at Rice — and he has been serving in that capacity ever since.
With his practice at The Methodist Hospital, Win says that his son "loves it. He sees a lot of athletes. He sees a lot of other people, too, but he really relates to the athletes, especially the younger generation."
As Win shares, "Winfield once told me, 'Dad...I just get this [medicine, orthopedics and the body]. It all makes sense to me.'" When Win saw his son's extraordinary performance at UTMB, never losing his first in class ranking from the moment he set foot on Galveston Island, he asked his son, "Winfield, where in the heck was this at St. John's School?" Win said, "He told me again, 'I just get it, Dad,' and he obviously does get it. In Gross Anatomy, he used his computer a lot. I think he could identify a lot of stuff, because he looked at pictures of a lot of stuff and had access to tons of information."
PARENTS GRATEFUL FOR A GRATEFUL SON: GIVING BACK TO THE MEDICAL SCHOOL THAT GAVE THEM ALL SO MUCH
Generosity comes naturally to Win and Lynn. Even Becks Prime, his successful hamburger empire comes with a heart. Becks Prime created "Milkshakes4Life" cards for friends struggling with cancer. One friend, who ultimately passed away from a glioblastoma told him, "I could have never gotten all of those pills down, if I had not had those strawberry milkshakes."
Because of that generosity Win and Lynn have created a scholarship in Winfield's name through a bequest at UTMB, but to see the benefits of this scholarship during their lifetime, they are making current use gifts presented as awards to students annually. With their monies firmly rooted in their businesses, rather than fund an endowment, which requires a substantial initial investment, they are making annual gifts commensurate with the amount an endowment would provide in earnings — and then, upon their passing, their estate gift to UTMB will fund the corpus of the larger endowment, so the Campbell Family Scholarship in honor of Winfield M Campbell, Jr., M.D. exists in perpetuity. This structure allows them to plan for their legacy, while enjoying the benefits of supporting students now.
Win and Lynn believe strongly in civic pride and duty, when Win says, "UTMB is important to the state and to the region. It's important for us to educate more doctors in this state, and more nurses and more health care professionals and provide those services."
Win quickly gets to the heart of their philanthropy, though, when he shares stories about doing what is right for the causes in which they believe, and to honor those who matter to them. He and Lynn are both passionate about conservation issues and organizations, with a particular interest in the Houston Zoo, but they also support activities that are important to their colleagues and friends.
With that said, Win's connection with UTMB is close to his heart for many reasons. He says, "I have a real close attachment to UTMB because of Winfield, because of Galveston — I mean we like the beach, we like Galveston, we like the people down there, we think they are doing a great job of educating people, and having doctors who are more personable and human, and not everybody is just another digit out there — and I would like to think that all of the other medical schools are doing that also — but Winfield worked so hard and got so much, that to honor him, we wanted to do something in his name at the school — it's really very simple."
ROOTING FOR THE UNDERDOG
Win beams with pride for his son, but he also feels tremendous pride in knowing he and Lynn are helping to make medical school dreams possible for other students at UTMB, who are working just as hard as their son did during his time at UTMB.
"It obviously did a lot for Winfield. It was a great experience for him [at UTMB] and will be valuable to him his whole life. The tuition was a pretty good deal. I was paying it — and if I recall, it was $6,500 a year at the time. He got a great education at a 'bargain price,' so that personally incentivizes us to give something back."
Win also has a place in his heart for the underdog — and that is why not surprisingly, the current award he and his family provide is structured in such a way it annually awards $1,000 to the valedictorian, but awards $2,000 to the salutatorian. He shares the logic behind this extra support for the student who ranks second in his/her class. Win explains, "The idea was just so that for this one time, s/he would get a little bit more than the number one student in the class."
Win is touched by the heartfelt thanks he and his wife receive for the financial support they have given to students and shared, "Candidly, we have gotten several nice notes from students thanking us for the money — telling us where they are going to go, and what they are going to do. It's just nice to know that they even bothered, really. They didn't have to — we wouldn't get upset if they didn't."
A WORLD CLASS MEDICAL SCHOOL ON A TEXAS ISLAND
Win is a Dallas native, who quickly arrived in Houston after completing his multiple degrees in Austin and after a months-long camping exploration of the United States with his wife, Lynn, followed by a ski season in Aspen, Colorado. He speaks powerfully about the can-do culture in Houston, "Houston still is and I think was a welcoming place for anyone who can perform — less of a closed society. The opportunity was better here."
Because of Win's obvious pride for his son's accomplishments at UTMB — and Winfield's noteworthy achievements, Win has served on the Development Board at UTMB for many years — and has even served as Chairman. He is passionate about UTMB, and feels that most Texans aren't aware of how special UTMB is, both in Texas and around the world.
He asserts, "The difficulty is that all these people up here [Houston], most of them don't know about it [UTMB]. Everything that is going on down there is incredible, from the education; to the health care; to the research; to the people at the South Pole; to the people at the clinics; to the prison hospital and the prisoners being treated; and all the other things — and you can put out information, but people don't take the time to read it or see it. Now...if we had a reality show…," he says with a smile.
He suggests that because people don't see it daily and drive past it because it's literally "on the edge [on a barrier island]," they aren't as aware of the benefits of its health care and research to the entire Gulf Coast region, the State of Texas and ultimately, the world. He hopes to change this. He says, "We're all a part of one big thing [in this universe]".
"I just think it's a great place. You support things that you have a relationship with and an interest in...and that you believe in."
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