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WVU alum continues giving back in honor of mentor

on Thu, 06/04/2015 - 17:30

In 2000, Tom Poole, a West Virginia University School of Medicine graduate, created an endowment in memory of Dr. Daniel Watts, his mentor, friend, and founder of the WVU pharmacology program.

Since initially giving $100,000 to the Dan Watts Endowment for Pharmacological Research and Education, Poole and his wife, Kay, have included an additional $1 million in their estate plan for the endowment.

Poole and Watts first met at WVU after Poole returned from serving at the Army Hospital in Fort Jackson, S.C. He wished to continue his pre-med studies at WVU with a plan to enter medical school. At the time, Dr. Watts had been hired to build a pharmacology program at WVU.

“He knew I was a poor country boy and that medical school would be an expensive proposition,” Poole said of Watts.

“I was making 50 cents an hour and my wife was pregnant. Dr. Watts asked if I would be interested in a yearlong research fellowship which paid $300 a month. That was more money than I’d ever made,” he said, “I accepted after talking with Kay. That’s when I really got to know him.”

The two would go on to conduct research and publish several articles in scientific journals related to their findings – and become very close friends.

One day Tom had his feet up on a desk. “Dr. Watts walked in and saw the holes in my shoes and asked, “Is that the best pair you have?”  I said, “Not only are they my best, they’re the only ones I have.  The next day he gave me a pair of his shoes.”

Dr. Watts was one of Poole’s professors when he was accepted to medical school the following year, and became a trusted mentor. After his rotations, Poole interned in Obstetrics at Memorial Hospital in Charleston. Poole opened his own private practice following his work there. Obstetricians Bob Stone and Jack Chambers were two of his close, professional colleagues throughout his career.

Dr. Watts passed away in 1994 at the age of 77, having served as a WVU faculty member from 1953 to 1966.

Now in retirement, the Pooles spend much of their free time completing 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons, and cross-country bike tours. Tom and Kay’s giving in memory of Watts also includes donations to the Medical College of Virginia, where he served as a dean of Basic Science and Graduate Studies.