APRIL 23, 2004 | “Double Vision” was the theme April 22 for the 10th anniversary celebration of the University of Arkansas for Medical Science’s (UAMS) Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute. Former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers was the keynote speaker at the event where special tribute was paid to the “foresight” of Springdale philanthropists Pat Walker and the late Bernice Jones, two “simply remarkable women” whose support of the Eye Institute and UAMS has been “transforming.”
John Shock, M.D., director of the Jones Eye Institute, executive vice chancellor and professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology in the UAMS College of Medicine, welcomed guests to the evening at the Chenal Country Club by explaining the purpose behind the event. “There are so many people we need to thank, and this 10-year anniversary celebration is one of the ways we can do it,” he said. “As Pat Walker has said many times, every gift counts, and I would like to add, every act of kindness is important and should never go unnoticed.”
After thanking the Institute’s advisory board, faculty and administrators, Shock spoke fondly of Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Jones, whose benevolent donations and vision helped make the Institute what it is today. “It is the foresight of the late Bernice Jones and Pat Walker that is responsible for our theme, Double Vision,” he said. “They are simply remarkable women, and nothing we can write or say will do them justice.”
Pat Walker, who attended the party with her family, has, with her late husband, Willard, made several large gifts to the Jones Eye Institute and to UAMS. Most recently, the Pat and Willard Walker Charitable Foundation gave the Eye Institute $15 million to add five additional floors to the building, which will be named the Pat Walker Tower. The Institute’s former Arkansas Center for Eye Research was also renamed the Pat & Willard Walker Eye Research Center in honor of the generosity of the Walkers. The $15 million gift from the Walker Foundation to the Eye Institute was part of a $21.5 million gift made to UAMS that also included gifts of $5 million for the UAMS Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and $1.5 million to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
In introducing a video tribute of Pat Walker during the anniversary celebration, Shock said, “Pat and Willard Walker are shining examples of the spirit of giving. Time and time again, they have nourished this community through their unselfish financial gifts as well as their personal involvement, wisdom and counsel.”
Bernice Jones, whose donation helped build the facility in 1993, died in September of 2003 at the age of 97. Before playing her video tribute, Shock said of Jones, “She set an example with her philanthropy that others have followed. We will be forever grateful for her vision and her generosity to our university.”
UA System President B. Alan Sugg, Ph.D., praised the Walkers, Mrs. Jones and her late husband, Harvey, for their support of UAMS and the state. “Without a doubt, the Walkers and the Joneses have to be four of the kindest, most loving people who ever walked on this earth. They are truly God’s children.”
During his keynote address, Bumpers noted that “UAMS has been the medical home for Betty and me since I was elected governor. It has been a great experience for us and I want to thank all of you who have helped make the Jones Eye Institute and UAMS so prestigious and such great institutions.”
Bumpers recounted the first time he met Mrs. Jones when he escorted her to the White House several years ago to receive a presidential medal from then-President Bill Clinton. “She was the most gracious, kind, gentle, caring woman I had ever been around,” he said.
He remembered time he spent with Pat and Willard Walker, remarking, “what struck me about them is they are two genuine certified packages with no guile or deception in either of their bodies. They were only trying to use what they have for others and they did and they have.”
A special surprise presentation was made to Dr. Shock in honor of his leadership and of his 25th anniversary at UAMS. Gissur Petursson, M.D. who was the only other full-time faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology when Shock came to UAMS, described Shock as “a dynamo,” and a “genie in a bottle.” He presented him with a book of letters from friends and colleagues. Shock reciprocated Petursson’s admiration, saying, “Pete deserves a great deal of the credit for everything that has happened [in the department of ophthalmology] in the last 20 years.” He added, “I wish he would stop beating me at golf.”
UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., praised Shock for his dedication to UAMS over the last 25 years. “Your leadership has been truly visionary and incredible.” Expressing his thanks for the support the Walkers and Mrs. Jones have shone for UAMS, he said, “Willard and Pat are of the same cloth as Bernice Jones. They have done many things for many places… their support has been truly transforming for UAMS.”
Dean E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., of the UAMS College of Medicine noted that the 10th anniversary event was not only a celebration of the “double vision” of Pat Walker and Bernice Jones but it was “a doubleheader” because it also marked Shock’s 25th year at UAMS. He praised Shock’s for leading the establishment of the Eye Institute and added, “nothing you envisioned was ever out of your sight.”
The Jones Eye Institute is a Center of Excellence at UAMS. This four-story, 50,000 square-foot facility houses the Department of Ophthalmology, a state-of-the-art eye clinic, the Pat & Willard Eye Research Center, an auditorium and the Arkansas Lions Eye Bank and Laboratory. Its main mission is to fight blindness in Arkansas through patient care, education and research.