Inspiring hope: Greehey, donors model commitment to community

Louree and Bill Greehey

Louree and Bill Greehey

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.”

For decades, the verse of 19th century American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson has rung true for many who reach out to help others in need. Bill Greehey is among those. Some might say Greehey is the epitome of Emerson’s philosophy, making it his life’s work to lift up the less fortunate. At the UT Health Science Center, Greehey shines as a beacon of hope and a leader in advancing the university’s mission to “make lives better.”

“We needed a champion back then, and we found one in Bill Greehey,” declaredWilliam L. Henrich, M.D., UT Health Science Center president, at the university’s sixth annual President’s Gala, “An Evening of Hope,” held this past fall in San Antonio. Dr. Henrich announced a $5 million gift that night from the Greehey Family Foundation to the university, which pushed the Health Science Center’s Campaign for the Future of Health over its goal of $500 million.

Dr. and Mrs. Henrich were joined by more than 1,500 community and academic leaders and students in attendance at the gala, which paid tribute to Greehey, one of the world’s most admired businessmen and philanthropists. Greehey is chairman of the board of NuStar Energy, L.P., one of the largest petroleum pipeline and terminal operators in America.

Greehey has been a longtime and steadfast supporter of the Health Science Center. In 2007, a historic gift of $25 million from the Greehey Family Foundation launched the momentum for the university’s Campaign for the Future of Health. In full circle fashion, the $5 million gift announced at the gala from the Greehey Family Foundation closed the campaign.

“It’s only fitting that our campaign culminates with a major gift from him,” Dr. Henrich said.

Promoting community health
The 2013 community wide gala raised almost $600,000 to establish two funds named for honoree Bill Greehey and The Greehey Family Foundation.

The Greehey Family Foundation Endowment for Community Service will support faculty and student programs directly benefitting the health and well-being of the community.

The Greehey Family Foundation Fund for Community Service and Patient Needs, “The Hope Fund,” will support the university’s mission of service by addressing patients’ urgent lifesaving medical needs.

With the foundation’s emphasis on supporting health and human welfare, children’s causes, education and the homeless, Greehey said the foundation’s partnership with the university allows both entities to make more lives better.

Providing for the poor and homeless
“We are proud of our partnership with the UT Health Science Center. By joining forces, the foundation and the university can continue to make a greater difference in the health and well-being of men, women and children – not just in San Antonio, but in communities across the world – thanks to the world-class research that is being done at the Health Science Center,” Greehey said. “And, I am also proud of our collaborative work to provide health and dental care to the working poor and homeless in our community.”

Dr. Henrich said the Health Science Center hosts the communitywide gala to showcase the university’s missions, raise funds to support the work of the faculty and students across the university, and honor exceptional leaders who work to make a difference locally, regionally and nationally.

President Henrich and Mary Henrich (right) honor Bill and Louree Greehey at the sixth annual President’s Gala.
President Henrich and Mary Henrich (right) honor Bill and Louree Greehey at the sixth annual President’s Gala.
Click to see more gala photos.

Nationally ranked business leader
“We are especially proud to pay tribute to one of our most iconic and admired businessmen and philanthropists, Bill Greehey.” Dr. Henrich said.

“Earlier this year, The Harvard Business Review ranked Bill near the top of its listing of The 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the world. This recognition of the tremendous success he has achieved as a chief executive officer also reflects Bill’s dedication to his employees, our city and all persons in need,” Dr. Henrich said. “The Health Science Center is thrilled to honor Bill Greehey and The Greehey Family Foundation for their strong commitment to San Antonio and to our university.”

The Greehey Family Foundation’s unwavering support has allowed Health Science Center scientists at the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute to devote their time to understanding children’s cancer with the goal of creating new and better treatments.

In 2006, Greehey launched Haven for Hope in San Antonio, an innovative program to transform and save the lives of homeless individuals and families. Now, Health Science Center medical students and dental residents receive clinical training there while providing faculty-supervised care to patients who otherwise could not access or afford care.

Through Greehey’s selfless commitment and generosity, student scholarships, community outreach programs, and faculty recruitment and retention are made possible – all aimed at the goal of making lives better in San Antonio and the world.

Dr. Carl Raba supports lifesaving care
Retaining exceptional faculty physicians, who provide lifesaving care to patients, at the Health Science Center is the goal of Carl F. Raba Jr., Ph.D., chairman and CEO of Raba-Kistner Consultants Inc. of San Antonio. Dr. Raba joined Greehey and others in attendance at the gala and also joined them in advancing the university through philanthropic support.

A $500,000 gift from Dr. Raba established the Carl Raba Family Chair in Neuro-Oncology at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the UT Health Science Center.John R. Floyd III, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, is the holder of the chair. Dr. Raba said he made the gift because “San Antonio needs physicians like Dr. Floyd and his colleagues. I have witnessed their remarkable skills and compassion firsthand. They saved my daughter’s life.”

“They saved my life.”
– Cathy Raba Wolfe, cancer patient

Cathy Raba Wolfe and her father Carl Raba Jr., Ph.D. Click to see video and to learn more about Bill Greehey’s and Cathy Raba Wolfe’s inspiring stories.


In the fall of 2011, Dr. Raba’s daughter, Cathy Raba Wolfe, the youngest of his five children, began suffering from severe headaches, problems with her vision and other unusual symptoms. What doctors at the Health Science Center found shocked Cathy, Dr. Raba and their entire family. A massive tumor had developed in her skull and sinus cavities and was placing painful pressure on her optical nerves. Subsequent biopsies revealed the tumor was cancerous. Cathy was diagnosed with Esthesioneuroblastoma (ENB), also known as olfactory neuroblastoma, a rare growth of cancerous tissue originating in the nasal cavity. Only about 1,000 cases have been identified since the first instance was described in 1924.

“I learned that about only 10 people a year in the world are diagnosed with this type of cancer,” Cathy said. “I was in disbelief and, initially, felt desperate. Why and how could this have happened to me?” But Cathy said her husband, Bob, and her father never gave up hope and encouraged her to have faith. “They had complete confidence in the Health Science Center doctors and with good reason,” she said. “They saved my life. After the initial shock of the diagnosis, I realized I needed to be an active participant in my treatment if I was to survive. Dr. Otto would call our home to check on me and my family. He reassured us that we were in good hands.”

Collaborative, compassionate care
Dr. Randy Otto, M.D., is professor and chair and the Thomas Walthall Folbre, M.D., Endowed Chair in Otolaryngology at the Health Science Center. He joined Dr. Floyd,Andrew Brenner, M.D., Ph.D., medical oncologist at the CTRC; Tony Eng, M.D.,radiation oncologist; Howard T. Wang, M.D., associate professor and chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery; and Carlos Rosende, M.D., the Herbert F. Mueller Chair in the Department of Ophthalmology, in leading Cathy’s diagnosis, surgery and care.

On Feb. 24, 2012, as Cathy lay on the gurney at University Hospital ready to be rolled into her operation, Dr. Otto held her hand and told her he and the team and her family were all praying for her.

“After a 20-plus-hour surgery, four days in the Intensive Care Unit and two weeks at University Hospital recovering, Cathy was able to go home. She has undergone subsequent treatment and care and is now doing very well. Her life is returning to normal one step at a time.” Dr. Raba said. “Her doctors are the best. We have been overwhelmed by their exceptional skills as surgeons as well as by their sensitivity and compassion. San Antonio needs more doctors like them. Patients, like Cathy, don’t have to travel outside of the city for this kind of care. It’s right here.”

Inspired to help others
Dr. Raba, who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in civil engineering from Texas A&M University and is an avid Aggie and football fan, said a quote from the late UT Austin Longhorn football coach Darrell Royal has inspired his philosophy of giving.

“The late coach once said, ‘You’ve got to dance with the one who brung ya.’ I have always incorporated his wisdom in my philosophy of life. Remember those who have helped you along the way and find a way to help them in return. We can never repay the good doctors at the Health Science Center for saving Cathy’s life. But our gift is a small way we can help and inspire others to help keep them here in San Antonio where they can multiply their lifesaving care in future patients.”

You may also like

Leave a comment