MU announced Thursday that George and Melna Bolm of Warren County left $1.3 million to the University of Missouri School of Medicine. The Bolms weren’t alumni of the University and were never treated at the University Hospitals or Clinics. They decided to donate the money because MU was close to their home and served the people in their area.
After George passed away in 2000, Melna made the initial gifts to the cardiovascular department at MU. Melna’s cousin, Bonnie Vahle, said Melna was interested in research throughout her life, but particularly research that would help other families that were going through what she went through.
“With Cardiovascular, trying to find some cures to help with that because George had so many many strokes in his life that you know that was something very dear to her,” Vahle said.
Some of the money will also go toward research in Ophthalmology. Melna struggled with macular degeneration, and her loss of vision later in life led her to fund research in this department. Professor Dean Hainsworth was named the Distinguished Faculty Scholar in Ophthalmology through the endowment. He said Melna, who passed away last year, was a wonderful person to talk to.
“She was concerned about her vision and what she could do to help other people,” Hainsworth said.
The endowment established a Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Health and a Distinguished Faculty Scholar in Ophthalmology. Hainsworth says the donation will continue to benefit the university for years to come.
George was a World War Two veteran and worked as a rural letter carrier. Melna was a Sunday school teacher and served at the election polls for more than forty years. She was honored by Secretary of State Roy Blunt for her service.