Honoring a half-century of friendship, Tom Brown, Charlie Read and Dr. Brian J. Miles visit at The St. Regis Houston Hotel
Highlighting those philanthropic foundations whose enduring friendship and visionary partnership have laid the groundwork for Houston Methodist’s growth for more than a century
Charles Darwin once noted, “A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.” Such is the story of the 50-year history shared between Houston Methodist, Claud and Marie Hamill, and The Hamill Foundation, the milestones of which read like a timeline of the hospital’s remarkable growth.
A keen and prudent Houston oilman, Claud Hamill served on the board of then Methodist Hospital from 1941-49. His relationship-focused style in both business and altruism was key when he and William N. Blanton approached fellow philanthropist Hugh Roy Cullen in 1945 to secure a $1 million gift that would ensure the hospital’s relocation to the fledgling Texas Medical Center.
In 1969, Claud and beloved wife Marie created the philanthropic foundation that would bear their own legacy for decades to come as well as help launch Houston Methodist’s Eddy Scurlock Stroke Center and the hospital’s first transplant program.
“They wanted to make Houston great,” says Tom Brown, longtime grants director at The Hamill Foundation. “Mr. Hamill made philanthropic decisions the same way he made oil deals: He knew who he was partnering with inside and out. It was all about personal connection.”
Today, Brown and fellow directors Bill Miller, Charlie Read, Charlie Snider and Barbara Strobel assure that the Hamills’ vision for a better future takes root in some of Houston’s most revered nonprofits, including Houston Methodist. In 2023, the foundation granted $13.2 million to more than 85 Houston organizations.
What this mission has meant for Houston Methodist is inestimable. Substantial giving has helped build programs benefitting stroke education, nursing excellence and bereavement intervention, while the foundation’s long-standing support of comprehensive urologic health and neurodegenerative disease research carries far-reaching implications for the future of care.
“Through the generosity of The Hamill Foundation, we’ve launched multiple clinical trials, including a vaccine for recurrent prostate cancer,” says Dr. Brian J. Miles, the Centennial Chair in Urologic Oncology in the Houston Methodist Department of Urology. “Hamill directors realize that it’s not enough to treat urologic conditions — we must be totally invested in the outcome of that treatment as well, including quality of life.”
“The Hamill Foundation’s continuing support for and confidence in our mission to enhance the quality of life for our deserving patients with ALS and other neurological illness sends an all-important message of hope. ”
Dr. Stanley H. Appel
Foundation funding established the Houston Methodist Men’s Comprehensive Health Initiative in 2016, followed by seed funding for a companion Urology Clinic for Women in 2023. The purpose of both is to provide best-in-class treatment and survivorship care for sensitive urologic issues, pairing with related care in cardiology, endocrinology and wellness. Support for an Advanced Urologic Imaging Center will also mean innovative diagnostic and therapeutic imaging to aid in treatment of urologic cancers and challenging female urologic issues.
Dr. Stanley H. Appel, the Peggy and Gary Edwards Distinguished Chair in ALS Research and director of the Ann Kimball and John W. Johnson Center for Cellular Therapeutics, appreciates shared vision as well. Both physician and friend to Marie Hamill during her courageous fight against Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Appel’s own translational research has benefitted from Hamill Foundation giving for more than a decade.
Brown points out that the common goals and mutual respect that have driven a philanthropic friendship spanning a half-century have also spurred physician-patient bonds between foundation members and trusted Houston Methodist health care partners. Speaking to the genuine care shown both inside and outside hospital walls, he adds, “We feel that when you work at Houston Methodist, it’s not just a job — it’s a ministry.”