In Memory of AHP Founding Member Welborn Boyd (W.B.) "Dub" Harris, FAHP
AHP is saddened by the recent passing of W.B. "Dub" Harris, one of AHP's founders. He was a core member of the small group of healthcare philanthropy professionals whose informal conversations over drinks in the mid-1960s turned into the 5,000+ member organization that AHP is today. Harris and his peers across the nation would meet up during hospital association conferences to collaborate, brainstorm, and share their experiences about healthcare philanthropy, developing a spirit of camaraderie along the way. This informal group, called the "Developartners," was limited to those directly involved in healthcare philanthropy fundraising. By 1967, the group had become so popular that the members decided to establish a formal organization.
Harris played a leading role in this transition. He chaired the committee that established the bylaws and the new name, the National Association for Hospital Development (NAHD). He was then elected as the first president of NAHD and served as chairman from 1967 to 1968. He continued to serve on the board until 1972. In 1975, he served the southwest region as chair of the accreditation committee. The AHP Rockies & Southwest Endowment was established in 1994 to honor Harris and three other members, John R. Vitello, FAHP, Joseph L. Kunec, and Mary D. Poole, FAHP. Harris was also a Fellow of AHP (FAHP).
Harris wore many hats in his lifetime, and like many of AHP's members, came to healthcare philanthropy from a diverse professional background. His experience in business, real estate, and as a World War II veteran made him an exceptional leader for AHP and in his roles as Vice President of Development for Lubbock Methodist Hospital and Development Officer at Texas Tech College of Medicine. Upon his retirement from Texas Tech, Dub returned to the real estate business and became a licensed real estate appraiser until retiring at age 86.
His legacy continues with his grandson Cliff Wilkes, Director of Major Gifts at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Like Harris, Wilkes has held many roles throughout his career—from politics to business—and has found the same tools for success that Harris did throughout his lifetime. The pair share the skills developed in the non-healthcare sector that support a healthcare fundraising professional’s ability to innovate in the face of a crisis.
Surprisingly, Wilkes found out about Harris' role as a founding member of AHP by accident.
"I never knew his connection with AHP until my step-mom told him I was in Wisconsin at the Madison Institute a couple of summers ago," said Wilkes. After participating in Madison Institute in 2019, Wilkes shared his experience with Harris, and it's evident that the spirit of AHP has stayed the same since its founding.
"When I told [Harris] about my experience at the Madison Institute, he said that the classes and training were amazing, yet he learned as much if not more from conversations over whisky. He wanted that to continue with the formal creation of NAHD/AHP," said Wilkes.
AHP continues to stand on the pillars of community, collaboration, and education that Harris and the other founders sought when they formalized their casual group of peers into a leading organization in healthcare philanthropy.
You can honor Dub's life and memory by contributions to Hospice of Lubbock, The South Plains Food Bank, The Lubbock Salvation Army, or a charity of your choice.