Daughter’s Legacy Is Paying It Forward at UAMS

By Holland Doran

Wagnon, of Camden, passed away in September at age 89, but left behind a $185,268 life insurance gift to UAMS that not even her family knew about.

Her family gathered in her honor Dec. 22 as her stepson, Nick Wagnon, and stepdaughter, Tommie Stockley, presented the gift to Lance Burchett, vice chancellor for institutional advancement, and Tim Dockery, director of planned giving.

“She always made an effort to find some kindness for the less fortunate and in turn she never failed to show appreciation when an act of kindness was bestowed upon her,” said Nick Wagnon. “This is the reason we are here today. Despite her family not having the financial ability to pay for medical services, UAMS accepted Pauline’s mother, Virginia Thompson, as a patient and provided her the best care possible.”

Burchett presented the family with the Society of the Double Helix Award, which is presented to individuals, foundations, corporations and organizations that contribute more than $100,000.

“This story about the matriarch we are celebrating here today is incomparable in my quarter of a century of work in higher education,” Burchett said. “It truly is an honor to gather this group here today – the members of the family and members of UAMS staff that have played a role in this extraordinary gift.”

Several members of Wagnon’s family spoke about her kindness, generosity and frugality. Jami Ellis, director of supply chain logistics at UAMS and the granddaughter of Wagnon, said she is humbled by her grandmother’s gift.

“She has showed us such an example of how we all need to think about what we do can to give back,” Ellis said. “UAMS is a wonderful place to work, and it has provided a lot of opportunity for me. It is a pleasure to work at a place that strives to give the best possible care to our patients and does so much to better the health of our state with accessible health care and research. My grandmother’s gift to UAMS will help us to continue the great work we do here. It’s wonderful to be a part of it.”

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report recognized UAMS Medical Center as a Best Hospital for 2021-22; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide for the third year; and named five areas as high performing — colon cancer surgery, diabetes, hip replacement, knee replacement and stroke. Forbes magazine ranked UAMS as seventh in the nation on its Best Employers for Diversity list. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationwide on Forbes’ Best Employers for Women list and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.