By Rosanna Ruiz
Dr. Bruce Bauknight and his wife Vicki Bauknight of Victoria shared the intensity of medical and nursing schools as newlyweds.
It didn’t matter that the Ganado High School sweethearts didn’t have much to live on. Neither did anyone else.
There were days of fierce study, but there were also carefree evenings of hamburgers and hot dogs shared with fraternity brothers and bridge nights with other married couples.
“We were living on a shoestring budget and life was hectic, but we enjoyed life in Galveston,” said Mrs. Vicki Bauknight, who graduated from UTMB’s School of Nursing
in 1967, a year before her husband received his medical diploma.
Memories, enduring friendships and the patient compassion modeled and taught at UTMB led the Bauknights to establish the Bauknight Family Professorship for the Department of Internal Medicine.
The professorship also honors the three generations of Bauknights educated at UTMB beginning with Dr. Bauknight’s parents, who were also medical and nursing school graduates.
“We are so proud of the Bauknights’ decision to establish this professorship honoring their family legacy at UTMB,” said Dr. David L. Callender, the university’s president. “The fact that three generations of Bauknights graduated from this institution stands as a testament of the enduring loyalty and connection to Texas’ oldest medical school that exists among many of our graduates.”
Dr. Bauknight’s father, Dr. James M. Bauknight graduated from the School of Medicine
in 1930, and his mother, Margaret Mingus Bauknight, graduated from UTMB’s School of Nursing that same year. Dr. Bauknight’s sister, Carol Bauknight Bishop, is a 1957 School of Nursing alumna. Her late husband, Dr. Charles Bishop, graduated from UTMB that year. Daughter-in-law, J. Lynn Knox Bauknight, is a UTMB-trained physical therapist.
The professorship is also meant to demonstrate to the couple’s four adult-aged children and 14 grandchildren the importance of philanthropy, Dr. Bauknight said.
“I think they all know you have to give either with time or, if you’re fortunate enough, financially,” Dr. Bauknight said. “It makes me feel warm inside and I still have all of those wonderful, great memories.”
Dr. Bauknight’s ties to the island really began with his grandparents, who owned the Bauknight Hotel, a four-story structure which once stood a block from the seawall on Avenue P1/2. A medical student staying at his grandparents’ hotel was the one who encouraged Dr. Bauknight’s father to attend UTMB.
His father took the advice and studied at Texas A&M and returned to Galveston to become a physician. While he was at UTMB, Dr. James Bauknight met Margaret, who was a nursing student. They later married and moved to Ganado, near Victoria, where the couple practiced medicine together. Dr. Bauknight said he often would tag along with his parents when they made house calls.
“I’d carry my dad’s bag in and watch as he visited with people.” he said. “He’d give them injections of penicillin or he’d give them other medicine he had with him in his bag.”
It was clear that his upbringing would propel him into a career in medicine. He enrolled at UTMB after he graduated from Texas Lutheran University. At UTMB, Dr. Bauknight encountered a familiar close-knit atmosphere.
After his first year of medical school, he and Vicki were married. At the time, she was commuting from the island to earn her basics at the University of Houston before she enrolled at UTMB. Mrs. Bauknight chose nursing over becoming a teacher, like her mother, or a secretary. Those were the limited career options for women in those days, she explained.
Later, the couple worked alongside one another just as Dr. Bauknight’s parents had, but with one exception.
“At least I didn’t have to ride a horse out to deliver babies,” Mrs. Bauknight said in jest.
Although he retired from his private practice in 2008, Dr. Bauknight has not completely walked away from medicine. He reviews electrocardiograms, or EKGs, for Victoria hospitals, and he also attends to patients at a local hospice there.
“I think it’s important to give,” Dr. Bauknight said. “The practice of Medicine is such a nice way to give of yourself and your time. One can educate the patient and help them understand their individual health issues.”