History of the Tarrant County medical Society Alliance and Foundation


This article is a collaboration written through the ages. In 1990 Marilyn Bloemendal first summarized the Auxiliary’s 70-year history in an article for the Stethoscope. Teresa Oltersdorf updated this summary in 2003 which included the name change to the Alliance. In 2020 Concetta Ledig and Lori Urso added the latest installment to celebrate the Centennial Year of the Alliance.

1990- The Auxiliary is 70 years old this year. When our Alliance was organized in 1920, Woodrow Wilson was President, World War I was just finished, and Mrs. Baird had just opened a little bakery. As historian, I have been asked to write a brief summary of the Auxiliary’s first 70 years. Mary Lipscomb has already put together the history of the early years, 1920-1950. From 1950-1990, I had to rely on information in the scrapbooks at the Academy. If there is a common thread that runs through these histories, it would be that the purpose of the Auxiliary has remained the same: to promote doctors and medicine in the community through service projects and to promote friendly relations among physicians’ families. How we have achieved these goals has varied from year to year and decade to decade.

Feeling the need of a closer fellowship and cooperation among families of physicians of the Tarrant County Medical Society, the doctors’ wives met in March 1920. Mrs. Frank Boyd was elected president and 69 women were listed as charter members. The decade of the Twenties was a time of steady growth and development for the fledgling organization. In 1922, the Auxiliary provided material aid to victims of the recent flood in Fort Worth. In 1924, the Alliance made six dozen nightgowns for pediatric service at the City County Hospital and started a toy box for the children there. Auxiliary members were encouraged to have yearly physical examinations and to be sure that “your cook and nurse are not suffering from some communicable disease.”

Our Auxiliary in 1929-1930 reported that “philanthropic activities included contributions to our new magnificent and commodious Methodist Hospital.” During the Depression in 1933-1934 active dues dropped from $3 to $2 and from $2 to $1.50 for associate members. By 1934-1935 there were 102 active members and one of the programs was the very first “Baby Review.” The first Hobby Show was held in 1937-1938, and Dr. May Owen appeared on the membership roll for the first time as an honorary member. Programs for the next year varied from discussions on socialized medicine (sounds familiar!) to a review of the “Medicine Man in Texas” and “Marijuana: Evil Effects of its Use on Youth.”

The decades of the 1940’s saw programs concerned with the war effort. Volunteer work was the emphasis of programs such as preparing surgical dressings for the Red Cross, working at the U.S.O., helping in nurseries for working mothers, and aid for British relief. In 1947, the Auxiliary became affiliated with the Woman’s Club and met there until 1969.

In the post-World War II period, the Auxiliary returned to community activities in education and information. In looking through the scrapbooks it is evident that the war had made us more aware of the world outside Fort Worth. A speaker from Carswell talked on “Annihilation Defense,” Dr. Gaston Foote spoke on “Comparative World Religions,” and there were at least two programs on learning about Communism.

In reading through the abundant newspaper articles in the Fifties and Sixties, one gets the impression of a much smaller, more closely knit Fort Worth. There were articles on Auxiliary families going on vacation, announcements of births, news about dessert parties given for graduates and brides, and pictures of children going off to camp. Whenever a doctor built a new house there were pictures and a story. And Auxiliary members’ addresses were given when announcing meetings and parties. There was an article on a doctor being bitten by a rattlesnake and a large article asking if it was proper to wear shorts on Main Street! I even saw some of your wedding pictures!

In 1956-1957 Mrs. Horace Renshaw became TMAA President. Fort Worth also claimed the oldest practicing doctor in America, Dr. John B Cummins, who was written up in Look Magazine. We continued to have Doctors’ Day, Gold Headed Cane, and we were active in Mothers on the March Against Polio. As we went into the decade of the 1960’s the TMAA convention was held in Fort Worth, and the Auxiliary honored Dr. May Owen as the first woman president of the Texas Medical Association. In 1963-1964, the Auxiliary had a HealthFair at Will Rogers Exhibit Building for nine days! We also had a Kick-Off dinner. According to the newspaper article, it was attended by 167,00 people. Governor John Connally and “Dr. Kildare” were there for the festivities! By 1965, we had 450 members who continued to be very active volunteers. The Hall of Medical Science wing opened in the Children’s Museum and was dedicated to Dr. May Owen. We served as guides there and were already involved in Senior Citizens Fair and Science Fair. Ann Hallmark became Tarrant County’s second president of the TMAA. As the Sixties drew to a close, we began meeting at Colonial Country Club, and the charge for lunch was three dollars.

The decade of the 1970’s began to see us more active in the political arena. One of our own, Betty Andujar, became a Republican State Senator and was Governor for a Day. Also, Margaret Rimmer served as a city councilwoman. Tel Med began, and we received an average of 712 calls per day. By the late 1970’s, we taught the largest number of C.P.R. trainees in Tarrant County, and soon after that, Pat Key was honored as First Lady of Fort Worth by the Altrusa Club for her work with C.P.R.

As the number of our service projects grew, and the need for funding increased, we began having money making projects. We had an art auction, a car raffle, garage sales, Christmas boutique, and style shows. The 1980’s saw us establishing the B.E.S.T. car seat loaner program and publishing the C.O.P.E. book. We have sponsored various conferences on adolescence, Women and Chemical Dependency, and Women’s Health Month. We have given programs to school children on drugs and car safety. Martha Bruner became the first state Auxiliary president from Tarrant County in over 20 years. We now have over 700 members. As we continue to reach out to the community, we have most recently organized and sponsored the HealthFair with the Medical Society. This has turned into a huge success and will probably continue for many years. With the large number of members we have now, we will continue to develop new programs and projects to meet our changing needs.

More of our members have gone back to school or are working outside the home. Also, there are many ways in which the practice of medicine is changing. But with an Auxiliary as responsive as ours, we should continue to be a positive influence in our community for at least another 70 years! --Marilyn Bloemendal, Historian (1989-1990)

The 1990’s brought the Internet and computers began to dominate everyone’s lives. It also was a decade of revolution in the financing and delivery of health care. This time will be remembered for the alphabet soup—PPO/HMO—of managed care. Political action became a matter of survival. Members worked in political campaigns, provided mini internships for public officials to “walk a mile in physician’s shoes,” and lobbied for tort reform and to preserve access to quality patient care with the “My Doctor, My Choice” campaign.

The Auxiliary took the lead in AIDS education, and, in 1990, won its first Health Awareness Promotion Award from the AMAA for the food pantry at the AIDS Outreach Center. We joined the Tarrant County Immunization Collaboration and participated in other health projects including Shots Across Texas immunization campaign, Teen Video Fest with teen-produced health messages to influence their peers, and printed 5,000 cards with “Friends Don’t let Friends Drive Drunk” message and distributed them through tuxedo rentals and area florists. Additional projects focused on SAVE (Stop America Violence Everywhere), and included “Hands are not for Hitting, Hands are for Helping, Healing, Hugging” book covers, and distribution of domestic hotline posters and cards in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. In 1995, the “Stop in the Name of Love” seminar educated physicians and other health professionals to understand and recognize domestic violence.

“The Live and then Give” committee educated the public about organ donation. With the National Bone Marrow Registry, Carter Blood Bank, and student health service directors from seven area colleges and universities, the Auxiliary held campus campaigns to increase awareness for the need for blood, organ, and tissue donation. In 1993, the Auxiliary established the TCMSA Foundation, funded through proceeds from the Style Show. The Foundation underwrote Auxiliary heath projects and donated an immunization van to the Tarrant County Health Department, educational materials and exhibits at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and endowed numerous community agencies including Woman’s Haven, The Ronald McDonald House, and the YWCA.

The 1990’s brought continued partnership with the Medical Society. In 1994, the Auxiliary and the Medical Society held the first joint installation of officers. In 1995, the organization changed its name to the Tarrant County Medical Society Alliance, reflecting changes in membership and its partnership with the Medical Society. We celebrated our Diamond Jubilee with a gala in 1995. The Alliance and the Medical Society combined their scholarship committees and awarded $30,000 in scholarships to allied health students. They also combined forces on the legislative committee to influence health systems reform. Beverlee Herd, TMAA President (1994-95) and Mary Ann Homer, TMAA President (1998-99) heralded the “Power of Partnership,” encouraging cooperation with the TMA on issues facing Medicine. With changes in medicine, the Alliance’s mission to promote friendly relations with physicians and their families became more important. Programs and Quality of Life activities bring medical families together, and the Alliance continues to welcome new families to the community. The Physician Family Support Committee and the Physicians Benevolent Fund help medical families in times of need.

In 1998, the Alliance initiated the Star Awards to recognize outstanding members. As the Alliance entered the new millennium, its members continue to volunteer for many of the same projects including Science Fair and Senior Citizens Fair and participate in Doctor’s Day celebrations but they are also ready to meet the needs of a changing world. Whatever the future brings, they are men and women dedicated to the health and well-being of their community. Their motto – Physician Spouses Joining to Care. --Teresa Oltersdorf (2003)

In 2020, two years after the Texas Medical Association Alliance celebrated their centennial, Tarrant County Medical Society Alliance turned 100 years old! While many things have changed, the Alliance’s commitment to community service and the family of medicine continues to grow and expand.

Hard Hats for Little Heads and Be Wise-Immunize™ are statewide programs promoted by the TMAA, TMA and TMA Foundation. Through Hard Hats for Little Heads, the Alliance purchases bicycle helmets from the Foundation, fits children with the helmets and educates them in the importance of wearing a helmet. In 2019, we fitted over 530 free helmets at Bike Rodeos organized by the local police department and other community events. These events are a great partnership between Alliance Members and local medical students (UNTHSC and TCU) who volunteer at the events.

Be Wise-Immunize™ was established in 2005 to increase awareness of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Alliance members are a vital part of the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County (ICTC) which, with the Public Health Department, provides education as well as free and low-cost vaccinations. Through our partnership with the ICTC, the TCMS Alliance won the Outstanding Achievement Award In 2014-2015 for consistent excellence with Be Wise-Immunize™ program. The Alliance also raises funds for Project Access Tarrant County, which provides low or no cost medical care to the underserved population. In addition to these projects, Alliance members have served for over 25 years alongside TCMS physician members on the Scholarship Committee. This committee awards tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to students in allied health fields. The Alliance partnered with the Fort Worth Altrusa Club for many years to volunteer at the huge craft sale known as the Senior Citizen Fair. Sadly, due to multiple factors, the Senior Citizen Fair came to an end in 2014. In 2018, amidst a growing national opioid addiction crisis, President Margaret McDonald initiated the Opioid Awareness project.

A decision was made to hold one large fundraiser in order to fund our community health projects, and in 2010, the annual Medicine Ball was born. This is a wonderful event allowing physicians and spouses a night off together while raising money for our service projects. The 2020 Medicine Ball theme was the Queens of Heart and celebrated the 100th year of the Alliance. Highlighting the evening was a slide show commemorating our 100-yr history and special recognition of past presidents who wore sashes to designate if they had been a county, state or national president.