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George and Melna Bolm
George and Melna Bolm, lifelong residents of Warren County, Missouri, gave more than $1.3 million to the School of Medicine to support cardiovascular and ophthalmology research.

Gifts Support Cardiovascular Disease and Ophthalmology Research

George and Melna Bolm provide $1.3 million for endowed faculty positions

George and Melna Bolm, lifelong residents of Warren County, Missouri, have given estate gifts of more than $1.3 million to the MU School of Medicine. Through her generous gifts, Melna, who passed away in 2011, wanted to memorialize her late husband George, who passed away in 2000, as well as support important medical research.

"I'm glad I was fortunate financially to be able to make these gifts for research," Melna Bolm wrote in 2003. "I listened with interest to stories about a teenager who received her second heart and lung transplant due to the first one being the wrong blood type. Research by someone made this possible. Too many people continue to die from heart attacks, and I wanted to support the type of basic research that could help everyone suffering from cardiovascular disease. Living in Warrenton, I decided to support MU because it was close to home and needed support for its efforts to serve people in my area and elsewhere in Missouri."

With an initial $550,000 gift in 2002, Melna Bolm established the George L. and Melna A. Bolm Distinguished Professor in Cardiovascular Health. An additional $550,000 from the Bolm estate has now elevated the professorship to the George L. and Melna A. Bolm Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Health, which is held by Ronald Korthuis. Another $250,000 from her estate has established the George L. and Melna A. Bolm Distinguished Faculty Scholar in Ophthalmology, which Dean Hainsworth has recently been named.

"These generous gifts will allow our cardiovascular researchers to advance their studies of the nation's deadliest disease," Korthuis said. "The university already is internationally admired for its cardiovascular disease research, and this support will allow us to take our investigations into novel areas with lifesaving potential. We've also leveraged the Bolms' gifts to produce more publications, receive more grant funding and support research education for students."

"George and Melna both suffered from multiple medical conditions," said Bonnie Vahle, a cousin of the Bolms. "Melna chose to support the professorship for cardiovascular health in memory of George and the chair of ophthalmology due to her struggles with macular degeneration. The Bolms hoped to support research that may one day help others overcome their medical conditions."

Melna Landwehr was born in 1918 and attended Central Wesleyan College before marrying George Bolm in 1941. The Bolms established their first home on George's farm near Truesdale, Missouri, where George worked as a rural letter carrier. While George served his country overseas in World War II, Melna worked for the Rationing Board. She was an active member of the College United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday school classes for many years. She also served at the election polls for more than 40 years and was honored by Secretary of State Roy Blunt for her years of service.

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