The UTHealth Medical School’s Faculty Wives and Women Faculty raise money for student scholarships throughout the year. More than 50 students have benefited from the Doris Simon Scholarship Fund over the last 40 plus years. But, who was Doris Simon?
Donna Buja, wife of Dr. Max Buja, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, explains:
Doris Simon came to Houston in 1973 with her husband, Frank (Department of Pediatrics) and daughters Lisa, Susan, and Patti. She had graduated from the Beth Israel School of Nursing in New York City in 1966. She attended New York University while working as a nurse and completed her bachelor’s degree at Towson State College in Baltimore in 1969.
On arrival in Houston, she immediately joined the Medical School’s new Faculty Wives group, and became the school nurse at Elrod Elementary School. Doris shared her love of stories and books with the students at Elrod while always taking the opportunity to educate the students on health care. Her efforts in this regard were so appreciated by the students and faculty that a special reading center, complete with books and two rocking chairs for the students to sit in while reading, was dedicated to her in 1991. A portrait of Doris also hangs on the wall there.
Doris was president of the Faculty Wives group in 1979-80, and the program chairman from 1987 until her death in 1988.
Doris was the driving force behind fundraising efforts to start the Medical Student Fund in 1978 and the first awards were given in 1980. A formally endowed fund was established in 1993 with a gift of $10,000 from the Faculty Wives group, faculty, friends and associates of the Medical School and at that time the Fund was named for her. The total endowment has now reached over $258,000 and a $13,000 scholarship was provided to an incoming first-year student in 2014.
“Doris loved life and lived it to the fullest even when she was suffering from her disease and its treatments,” added Susan Byrne, wife of Dr. John Byrne, chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. “She continued to work and be active and always remained fun to be with no matter what adversities her illness brought her. When she lost her hair to chemotherapy, she just wore bright and colorful hats. One of the first things one would notice about her was the mega-watt smile she always seemed to wear. When people talk about Doris, they always mention her understanding and her patience with others and her ability to look on the bright side of any situation. Her stamina and courage in fighting her disease are (legendary).”