$8 Million Gift Divided Between Arkansas Children’s Hospital, UAMS

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) will share equally in an $8 million bequest from the estate of Little Rock businessman James H. Hamlen II.

Hamlen, a Portland, Maine, native who graduated from Harvard University, moved to Little Rock in 1937 to participate in J. H. Hamlen and Son, Inc., the family cooperage, timber and lumber business.  He died Feb. 15 at his Little Rock home at age 90.

The Hamlen gift is the largest bequest in Arkansas Children’s Hospital history.

Hamlen’s interest in Arkansas Children’s Hospital began almost 25 years ago when the daughter of an employee received surgery at ACH. His largest lifetime gift to the hospital was a donation of 476 acres of timberland in 1995, valued at approximately $750,000. Hamlen designated the proceeds from that donation to construction of the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center building and for endowment for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

“Jim Hamlen has been a good friend of ACH,” said Jonathan Bates, M.D. “We haven’t yet decided how to use the $4 million that he left us. We want to fund something of which he would be proud. Based on his designation of earlier gifts to the hospital, we will be looking at construction projects and funding of priority programs.”

Hamlen previously donated to UAMS as a member of the Chancellor’s Circle. UAMS will use its $4 million share:

  • To finish a conference center on the 12th floor of the Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute. The boardroom will be named in memory of Hamlen.
  • To finish funding the chancellor’s chair in honor of Chancellor Emeritus Harry P. Ward, who was UAMS chancellor from 1979-2000
  • To establish a Strategic Initiatives Fund

“We are thankful for this generous gift that will allow UAMS to continue reaching out to the community with its world-class care and research,” UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., said. “Through his bequest Mr. Hamlen will touch the lives of  patients, physicians, scientists and students for generations to come.”

“The total of Jim Hamlen’s philanthropic gifts made in recent years and through his estate exceeded $20 million,” said Hamlen’s executor, Ron Pearce of El Dorado.

Wilson Jones of Little Rock, Hamlen’s personal attorney, said: “He gave more than $6 million to Harvard, his alma mater, in part for scholarships for undergraduate Arkansas students.”

J. H. Hamlen and Son Inc., a cooperage firm, was founded by Hamlen’s great-grandfather, James H. Hamlen, in Portland in 1846.  The family brought the company to Arkansas in 1892, where its main location on East 17th Street in Little Rock was supported by operations throughout Arkansas. The younger Hamlen joined the Army in 1941 and trained as a flight engineer and pilot, participating in action in Guam, Leyte and Okinawa during World War II. After the war, Hamlen took graduate studies at Yale Forestry School, then returned to Little Rock. Hamlen sold the business, still located on East 17th Street, to Weyerhaeuser Co. in 1988.  Part of the sales proceeds were committed to the James H. Hamlen Charitable Remainder Trust, funds from which make up some of the gifts to UAMS and ACH. 

Arkansas Children’s Hospital is the only pediatric hospital in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States. ACH is a private, nonprofit facility serving children from birth to 21 years and boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs, intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research. ACH is dedicated to fulfilling its mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children’s health and development, and the hospital treats all Arkansas children, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,170 students and 650 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Central Arkansas Veterans Administration System, have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4 billion a year.

UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Center on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital
For more information:

Chris McCreight, 501-364-1478
Wireless phone: 501-350-3641