Family Legacy: A Story Held by Three Generations
By Catherine Duncan
Born in tiny Alice, Texas, with a population of 4,239 in 1931, Jim L. Story, M.D., was the son of a farmer and rancher. He earned his undergraduate degree at Texas Christian University before attending the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. His internship and residency training were completed at the University of Minnesota, where he joined the neurosurgery faculty. He met his wife, Joanne, in Minneapolis.
However, in 1967, he was offered the opportunity to return to Texas and found the Division of Neurosurgery at the new University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio. The division saw patients at the county’s downtown Robert B. Green Hospital. By 1974, neurosurgery’s residency training program was fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
“I had a yearning to come back to Texas, especially South Texas. I also was drawn to helping create a new medical school. The challenge was teaching young people, starting research, and caring for those who were sick,” Dr. Story said. “Our division had a motto that we upheld—honor the tradition, serve the sick, and advance the field.”
He served as chair and professor of neurosurgery for 29 years. During that time, he trained nearly two dozen neurosurgery residents. “Being surrounded by very bright people was very stimulating,” he said of his long career at the Long School of Medicine.
After retiring from the university in 1996, he continued to train residents while in the private practice of neurosurgery until 2004. He practiced alongside one of his former residents. In 2003, he returned to the university to chair the newly created Center for Neurosurgical Sciences, which later became the Department of Neurosurgery.
While on faculty here, Dr. Story saw his daughter, Kristin Story Held, M.D., graduate from the Long School of Medicine. Dr. Held, Class of 1985, had a classmate, John Pulliam, M.D., who would become Dr. Story’s son-in-law when he married daughter, Mary Story Pulliam, a nurse.
Dr. Story credits his wife, Joanne Story, B.S.N., RN, with the role she played in promoting and developing an interest in medicine in their four children. “She was my constant companion and supporter and was active in support of the university and our academic tradition throughout our career,” he said of his wife of 60 years.
Dr. Held remembers growing up and seeing how much her father loved being a physician and a professor. “To him, the patient was always first,” Dr. Held said. “He taught us that being a physician was a privilege and a blessing. He instilled in me the desire to be a physician. I learned from him that I must continue to learn and be innovative in patient care and to keep the time-honored patient-physician relationship private, personal, and the center of my life in medicine.”
Dr. Held, who is an ophthalmologist in San Antonio, said she now sees patients who were her father’s patients years ago. “They ask about him. He still remembers them. He was always focused on the patients,” she said.
A third generation
The Story-Held family legacy at the medical school has continued with two (out of four) daughters of Dr. Held and her husband, David. “I encouraged my daughters to come here. I told them they would receive an excellent clinical experience and basic science education.
“I think going to school here and practicing in town has many advantages. You develop trusted relationships with physician colleagues from all specialties and then can refer to them later. I think it is great to learn, train and practice in my community,” Dr. Held said.
Daughter Holly Held Volz, M.D., graduated from the Long School of Medicine in 2014. Her sister, Heidi Held McDonald, M.D., earned her degree in 2017. Dr. McDonald is now doing her residency in dermatology at UT Health.
Dr. Volz, who completed her residency in June at UT Health, accepted a dermatology faculty position in September. She is working with residents and seeing patients at the Mays Cancer Center, the newly named home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.
With her grandfather as a founding faculty member, Dr. Volz said she has many childhood memories at the university. “I wanted to live here and to work here like he did. I knew I could build referrals during my residency and get to know my colleagues and the people I would work with in other specialties.
“I also had strong family support while I was here for medical school and my residency,” she said. “I’m glad I decided to come here. Our school is great at getting early exposure to clinical training. During my second year of medical school, I got to see patients. During my third year, I was doing core rotations,” Dr. Volz said.
Regarding her residency in dermatology, “I think the faculty members at our university are approachable and eager to teach. We are a team, and we want to take the best care of our patients. I liked getting up and going to work every day,” she added.
Dr. Volz said she decided to join the faculty because she saw the impact she can make not only on patients but on future physicians. “I was taught by physicians who my grandfather trained. I saw how my grandfather’s work influenced their lives, and that, in turn, has impacted my own. I am honored to be a part of the tradition of medical education. I am fortunate to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather and my mother.”
Dr. Story is just as proud of his family’s accomplishments. All four of them were elected to membership in the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
“Kristin is beyond all expectations. She is an outstanding ophthalmologist and is really involved in preserving the classical practice of medicine. She also raised four glorious young women. With Holly and Heidi, if we didn’t encourage them overtly to be doctors, we certainly did covertly! It was very rewarding to see them both graduate from our medical school. We are very fortunate to have this legacy of learning,” he added.
Dr. Held said the family is thrilled that three generations have been involved in the Long School of Medicine. “Our medical school has an important role in the development of San Antonio, Bexar County and South Texas. We have a very pioneering spirit. Those first founding faculty created a strong foundation. This school is based on the same principles that my father taught me—the importance of an excellent education, a strong work ethic, and invaluable clinical training. Those are all important in creating the next generation of outstanding physicians,” she added.