RAHC’s first endowment pays tribute to Col. Card

10-year anniversary celebrates milestones

(Left to right) Leonel Vela, M.D., congratulates Mrs. Garrison Card, wife of the late Col. William Card Jr., and her son, Bill Card III.

Ten years ago on June 28, the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) officially opened its doors in Harlingen, thanks to the tireless efforts of many community leaders and UT Health Science Center faculty, staff, students, and administrators.

One of the hardest-working and tenacious advocates for a medical school in Harlingen was the city’s own mayor, the late Colonel H. William “Bill” Card Jr.
Col. Card was known as “one of the greatest mayors in Harlingen’s history” who had a passion for the city and its people. His friends and colleagues called him a “great mediator and a true hero to his country and the city.” He was among the city’s longest-serving mayors, in office from 1987 to 1998.

A born leader, Col. Card retired as a decorated veteran after 29 years of military service that included action aboard the USS Pennsylvania where he participated in the defense of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941; the Roi-Namur Islands Operation of the Marshall Islands campaign in 1944; the Saipan Island campaign and Tinian Island, Mariana Islands and Iwo Jima. During the Korean War, he took part in the landing at Inchon and fought in the liberation of Seoul. After making the landing at Wonson, he participated in the fight north to the Chosin Reservoir.

After retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps, Col. Card was named commandant of the Marine Military Academy and in 1975 began his career as a banker, eventually becoming president of First National Bank of Harlingen. He is remembered as a dynamic individual who “never retired from making Harlingen a better city.”

Leonel Vela, M.D., M.P.H., regional dean of the RAHC, knew Col. Card well and worked with him closely.

“With the RAHC’s 10th anniversary observances approaching this summer, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to our dear friend and advocate Col. Card and permanently recognize his role in the establishment of the RAHC.” Dr. Vela said. “I look forward to celebrating the creation of the RAHC’s very first academic endowment – The Colonel H. William Card, Jr. Endowed Professorship.”

Dr. Vela is leading the fundraising campaign that will ensure Col. Card’s legacy of advocacy for education and support of health care for the citizens of the Rio Grande Valley.

“Because of Col. Card’s leadership, the landscape of medical education and health care in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is changed for the better forever.”

Dr. Vela and his wife, Alicia, initiated the campaign with a personal leadership gift and are encouraging RAHC faculty to match the gift. Members of the greater Harlingen community, friends of Col. Card and the entire community are invited to participate.

The campaign completion date is scheduled for June 2012.

For more information or to make a gift to the campaign, contact Kim Warshauer at 210-567-0242 or e-mail To donate online, visit

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