Houston Methodist’s deep roots are forever intertwined with the Fondren family, which includes eight family members who have proudly served on the hospital’s board, committing a combined 187 years of service…and counting. Walter and his wife Ella were devoted to the Methodist church and supported its many programs, including its hospital operations.
After Walter’s death in 1939, Ella diligently continued her husband’s work and was subsequently elected to the board of The Methodist Hospital. She has been referred to as the “Matriarch of Methodist,” a fitting moniker considering she spent more than 43 years of her life in service to the hospital.
The family tradition of service didn’t stop there. Grandson David M. Underwood joined the Houston Methodist board in 1963 — along with his cousins Walter W. Fondren III and W. Bryan Trammell Jr., whose wife Ann Gordon Trammell and brother Tom Trammell later joined the board. David subsequently became the longest-serving board member in the institution’s history.
In addition to the Fondren family, we also honored all members of Houston Methodist’s 1919 Board of Directors – the incredible leaders who comprised the inaugural board of Methodist Hospital 100 years ago. These visionaries came together in the midst of the Spanish Flu Pandemic in a city suffering from growing pains, before air conditioning became prevalent. Against all odds, when medicine was more myth than science, they gave of their time, talents and resources to take the tiny hospital on Rosalie Street and make The Methodist Hospital a reality.