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Long Sight

Grateful patients Mickey Coleman, Mack and Jonnie Day and Dorothy Gerwin lived simply so they could give big. They saw the need to forge uncharted health frontiers at the UT Health Science Center, so they gave munificently throughout their lives. Now in death, their generosity—their legacy—continues through their estate plans. Sight-saving and life-saving research will go on and save others from the kind of health conditions that plagued their final days.

Gerwin A Mother of All
Dorothy K. Gerwin, 1912-2013

She lost both her children, but she adopted dozens as her own.

Dorothy made it her business to meet every student in the UT Health Science Center's Departments of Physiology and Ophthalmology who received a Gerwin Fellowship, created in 2004 by her and her late husband of 63 years, Daniel.

Her husband might have been the attorney, but she was the great thinker, and the two shared a passion for philanthropy focused on education, health care and scientific research. In honor of their son, they endowed the Thomas A. Gerwin Chair at the Health Science Center, making it possible to recruit extraordinary scientific researchers. A long list of charitable organizations close to their hearts spanned from the U.S. to Israel and from academic institutions to hospitals.

Her support meant more than simply writing a check. She often hosted those impacted by her giving efforts in her home. They fed her unwavering interest in current events and charity, while they, in turn "enjoyed the privilege of spending time with an exceptionally kind, charming and elegant woman," says Haik.

At 100, she outlived her immediate family, but she never was alone. And her spirit still lives on.

Coleman A Fisher of Giving
David D. 'Mickey' Coleman, 1927-2014

When Mickey was 13, his father died, forcing him to leave boyhood behind and run the family farm.

His parents impressed upon him the value of higher education as a great equalizer and a solution to global ailments. So, following a tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force, Mickey went on to attend UT Knoxville, where he lettered in swimming and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Eventually he sold the farm in exchange for entrepreneurial endeavors and travel adventures.

When Mickey met the Hamilton Eye Institute's namesake, Ralph S. Hamilton, and its director, Barrett G. Haik, the lessons his parents ingrained in him about the importance of education found their calling. He became a great supporter of the institute. And he gained a dear friend and fishing buddy in Haik.

Once, following Mickey's stabilization from a brain hemorrhage, Haik "moved mountains" to get him back to Memphis from Michigan, where he often retreated during the summer. Haik called in a favor from a colleague to have Mickey flown back to Memphis. He also arranged for a team of medical professionals, who volunteered their services, to safely transport Mickey home.

It is what Mickey would have done for Haik or anyone else, as evidenced by his insistence that Hurricane Katrina victims call his home theirs until they could get back to the homes they once knew.

"His hospitality was like no other," Haik says. "He never took anything for granted. He appreciated every blessing."

Days Hole-in-One Care
Walter 'Mack' and Gertrude 'Jonnie' Day, 1923-2011 and 1924-2014

Although they lived hundreds of miles away in Palm City, Florida, Mack and Jonnie only trusted Haik and others at the Hamilton Eye Institute with their eye care and overall health.

Caring for their health remotely from Memphis, Haik went the extra mile and it was noticed by the Days, who became staunch supporters of the Hamilton Eye Institute and golf—their first love—at UT Knoxville. Even after the death of Mack, Haik's coordinator, Blanca Phillips, became Jonnie's advocate as she maneuvered the health care system to secure home health aids in her final years.

She still had her independence as she lost her sight. And that made her smile, recalls Phillips.

High-wattage smiles plastered their faces on the golf course. After all, they were really good, and they had the Westchester County New York Husband and Wife Championship Award along with hundreds of others to prove it. Even in Nassau, Bahamas, where they lived from 1960 to 1970, they sponsored many golf tournaments. When Mack wasn't on the clock as a senior-level executive with Wometco International, the Pepsi Cola bottling operation and Nassau Vending Company, he was on the fairway.

"They cared deeply about medical research," recalls Haik. "They were attentive to the world around them."

You Can Make a Difference
For information on planning a gift to support future students at UT, contact the Office of Planned Giving at (865) 974-4826 or plannedgiving@tennessee.edu today.

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