A Legacy of Healing: Dr. Tom and Kathryn Holder
As a small boy growing up in Mississippi, Tom Holder never imagined the crucial role he would play in shaping the future of pediatric medicine. His story began the same way as it had for many men of his generation: a youth during the Depression; a soldier who fought in World War II; and a recipient of the G.I. Bill. After the war, Tom attended Ole Miss, where he sailed through two years of pre-med courses. He did so well in fact that the university granted his request to apply for medical school without having earned an undergraduate degree. It was the fall of 1948, and he was off to Wake Forest to study medicine.
"It during my time in North Carolina that I made the two best decisions of my life," says Dr. Holder with a smile. "One was to pursue surgery, and the second was to pursue Kathryn Robinson." Dr. Holder met Kathryn in the small town of Reedsville, North Carolina where she was a teacher and he was interning at the local hospital. They were married in 1953 and for the next 7 years they spent time in Philadelphia and Boston where Dr. Holder was selected to train under the pioneers in pediatric surgery, Dr. John Gibbon and Dr. Robert Gross. He had found his niche in this exciting new frontier and even spent a year as a member of the Harvard faculty. Mrs. Holder continued to teach school until the birth of their first child in 1958.
In 1960, Kansas City came calling. The University of Kansas Medical Center and it's affiliate at the time, Children's Mercy, needed a Chief of Surgery. Dr. Holder was one of the few people in the nation to have a formal residency, a fellowship, and teaching experience in the newly established specialty of pediatric surgery. He took the position and the Holders moved to Kansas City. Mrs. Holder quickly settled into the new community, raising their three children and volunteering in the Kansas City Public School District, namely at Troost Elementary.
Dr. Holder went on to become a world-renown pediatric surgeon, along with his colleague Dr. Keith Ashcraft. The Holders made Kansas City their permanent home, yet their legacy to the area will not just be measured in surgical skill or community leadership. They will also leave a legacy to the children of this region through a planned gift to Children's Mercy through their IRA.
"Since this account is funded with pre-tax dollars, our children would have to pay tax on this inheritance," explained Mrs. Holder. "It makes good sense to give a gift through this vehicle because as a charity, Children's Mercy will get the money in full."
"Best yet," says Dr. Holder, "there was nothing to it. We contacted the institution who holds the IRA and asked for a form to change our beneficiary. When we received the form, we listed Children's Mercy as a beneficiary and mailed it back. It was very simple."
Children's Mercy will always feel fortunate that the Holders agreed to make Kansas City their home. Together they continue to make a lasting difference in the health of our children.