2012 New and Upgraded Major Donors

Top Donors Make Healthy Now/Healthy Future Possible

2012 Major Donors 

Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler 

Dr. Ernest and Mrs. Sarah Butler are known for expanding opportunity and improving the quality of life through their many years of involvement with not for profits. TMAF is indeed fortunate that the Butlers have brought this energy to TMA’s science teacher awards program, which in 1998 was named for them in recognition of their establishing an endowment to help support the program. In April of 2012, the Butlers added $500,000 to their TMAF endowment, bringing the total to just over $1M. 

Thanks to the extraordinary support of this Austin couple, the TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching has become not only an effective means of recognizing outstanding science teachers at the elementary, middle and high school level, but a symbol of  the enormous impact science has in our world today and in the future. 

“Our hope is that this gift spotlights the very real need to reward and encourage the best science teachers, who have the potential to inspire future physicians, and that additional individuals and institutions will join us with their support and participation in this endeavor,” said Dr. and Mrs. Butler.  

 The Butlers have been donors to TMAF since 1991. Dr. Butler served on the TMAF board and currently is an advisory council member.  

Edward and Dawn Buckingham  

Edward and Dawn Buckingham, Austin, both have very busy medical practices, yet find the time to give back to their profession and the community. The couple recently became Major Donors at TMA Foundation, yet another symbol of their strong commitment to improving the lives and the health of others. The Drs. Buckingham feel strongly that physicians have always been an integral part of their communities. As towns have become cities, the philanthropic work of organizations such as TMAF are just one way that physicians can give back in the modern world.  

Dawn Buckingham, MD, is an ophthalmologist in private practice with a history of serving on and chairing committees of TMA, the Travis County Medical Society and the American Medical Association. She is a past president of the Texas Ophthalmological Association and currently is a member of the TMA Council on Legislation. Prevention of blindness, serving the uninsured and historic preservation are among her many interests that translate into community service. Edward Buckingham, MD, is a facial plastic surgeon in private practice in Westlake, just outside of Austin. He is an alternate delegate to the AMA from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and a delegate to TMA from Travis County. He also sits on the board of directors for the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  


Dr. and Mrs. Art Klawitter 



 Art Klawitter, MD is a family physician, so it is no surprise that even outside his busy practice based in Needville, he is deeply interested in the health and well-being of the community and the patient. Much of his service to TMA has centered on doctor patient communications, sports medicine, risks of tobacco and health promotion. But another indication of his desire to make an impact is the fact that he and his wife, Pamela, have been donors to TMA Foundation since 1991 and recently became major donors. “The TMA Foundation gives me an avenue to advance medicine beyond the confines of my office. The public health advances championed by the foundation are vital to the health and safety of my small population of patients.” Dr. Klawitter currently serves the TMA as secretary-treasurer, and is a delegate to the AMA, Pamela is a registered lab technician and has held numerous leadership positions in the TMA Alliance and her alliance chapter, in addition to volunteering for TMAF-funded Hard Hats for Little Heads events in Fort Bend County. They have three grown daughters and three granddaughters.


G. Sealy and Debbie Massingill   

The Massingills take an active role in their local community, but also the larger Texas community, as demonstrated by their continuous support of TMAF since 1996. Dr. Massingill, a native of Fort Worth, is associate professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology, at the University of North Texas Health Science Center/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth. He also is chair of the Department of OB/GYN at John Peter Smith Health Network and president of the Tarrant County Medical Society.  Debbie hails from Peoria, Illinois and was raised in Fort Worth. She is a member of the TMA Alliance and oversees her family foundation. The couple has two sons and a daughter.

Dr. Massingill is a member of the TMA Committee on Maternal and Perinatal Health, reflecting his steadfast devotion to what’s best for patients and in particular women’s health.  He joined the TMAF board in 2009 and was elected vice president in 2011. He currently chairs the nominating committee. Dr. Massingill is active in numerous medical professional organizations including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists where he serves as vice chair for District XI, Section 2.

With his undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin, the couple holds not only football season tickets but also basketball season tickets for their beloved Longhorns. When asked why they have supported TMA’s philanthropic arm for nearly 20 years, he said, “We want the community to view physicians as more than just “Healthcare providers,” but as philanthropists and leaders in the community.  It’s also a nice way to honor Debbie’s parents, who left us too soon.”

Bruce and Mary Meyers 

Bruce and Mary Meyers, Lake Jackson, have spent their lives contributing to civic, community and political activities. Fortunately, TMA Foundation has been among the many causes they have championed. The couple recently joined TMAF’s Major Donors, marking nearly two decades of support for the work of the foundation. 

Mary, a past president of the TMA Alliance and of her Brazoria County Medical Society (BCMS) Alliance, recently completed six years on the TMAF board of trustees. During that time, she served as chair of the Grants Committee and advocated for TMAF in her community and statewide.

“Chairing the grants committee for much of my time on the TMAF Board opened my eyes to the work that the money we give to the Foundation accomplishes. It truly is used for projects close to the hearts of TMA members. It was gratifying to see how seriously the TMAF trustees and staff took their obligations as stewards of our donations,” said Mary.

Dr. Meyers, a board-certified ear, nose and throat physician in private practice, is a past president of the BCMS and of the Brazosport Health Foundation (BHF), where he served as director of BHF's Capital Campaign for Brazosport Cancer Center. 

For years, Mary has enjoyed acting in community theater, providing graphic design at no charge for numerous not-for-profits, travel, cooking and playing with the couple’s two young grandchildren. 

The Meyers belong to numerous state and national professional organizations, yet still find time to make a mark on their community. Mary is on the board of the county library system and foundation and Brazosport Center Stages and is the 2012 chair of the BHF’s Power of the Purse fundraising event . She was recognized for her accomplishments with the Brazosport Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2002. Dr. Meyers has served on the Board of Trustees for Chapelwood United Methodist Church. The Meyers have two grown daughters. 

Dr. Pearse and Mr. Einar Vagnes   

It’s no coincidence that this physician has a heart. While this pediatric cardiologist is heavily involved in organized medicine, she sees patients through the Dallas County Medical Society Project Access as well as her own outreach clinic in Paris. Lee Ann Pearse, MD and her husband, Einar Vagnes, recently joined TMAF’s Major Donors, continuing a tradition of service to others that was inspired by her father who was a physician and mother who was a nurse. 

 When asked why she supports TMAF, Dr. Pearse remarks,  "I have been brought up with a couple of guiding principles, one being that it is a privilege to serve our patients, and a second, to whom much is given, much is expected.  I love being part of TMAF which seeks to recognize the needs of many of our fellow Texans and gives us a way to make their lives better." 

While the couple has supported the foundation for the past seven years, Dr. Pearse recently joined the TMA Foundation Board of Trustees and serves on the Grants Committee. Within TMA, she is a member of the Council on Legislation and at the Dallas County Medical Society she is a member of the Ad Hoc Legislative/Health PAC and the Committee on Socioeconomics. 

The Colorado native has worked in a variety of medical settings but finds her current situation as part of Pediatrix to be ideal, as it affords her the time “do the doctoring” and the company supports her charity work. And Einar wholeheartedly supports her in her in her practice. He is a member of the TMA Alliance and TEXPAC and they can be seen together each year at the foundation’s gala.  

The couple believes strongly in getting engaged at the state, local and federal levels and fortunately, the TMA Foundation has been one such organization where they have shared their time, gifts and talents.

Dr. and Mrs. Lyle Thorstenson 

Service, leadership and contribution mark the path that Lyle Thorstenson, MD, Nacogdoches, has taken since graduating from Minnesota State University (MSU) at Moorhead. He and his wife, Pam, recently joined TMAF’s Major Donors. Their consistent support of the foundation since 1996 reflects their strong commitment to giving back.  

“By becoming a physician, all of us give of our time and talent to improve the health of all patients.  The TMAF provides an important pathway to continue giving with the goal of improving health.  TMAF funds are vital to support this most important aspect of my TMA.  It is an honor to give to such a noble cause,” said Dr. Thorstenson.  

Dr. Thorstenson, a Locum tenens ophthalmologist, has served as chairman of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) Delegation to the American Medical Association since 2010 and is a past chairman of the TMA Board of Trustees. In addition, he was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from MSU in 1991, the “Young at Heart” Award from the TMA Young Physician Section in 2007, the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Ophthalmological Association in 2007, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas Department of Ophthalmology in 2009 and the Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2009. Outside the practice of medicine and his involvement with organized medicine, Dr. Thorstenson enjoys traveling and playing golf. He and Pam have two grown children. 



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