About 15 years ago, former associate dean Stephanie L. Woods, ’79, R.N., Ph.D., and a handful of nursing students witnessed an unforgettable sight: the late Florence A. Doswell, then in her 90s, descending on the Dallas campus.
“She was in a motorized wheelchair, with flaming red hair, fuchsia fingernails, and a designer trenchcoat with military epaulettes in gold. She was just stunning,” recalls Woods, who is now Dean of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center El Paso.
Number of TWU nursing grads
TWU Nursing first-time pass rate on the NCLEX national licensing exam (2021)
They may not have realized that this wonder in a wheelchair was the driving force behind TWU’s nursing program in Dallas.
WHAT DROVE HER
Florence Doswell had a soft spot for nursing students, Woods said. That connection was formed during her husband’s battle with cancer.
Houston Doswell, a successful oil and gas producer, died in 1974 and passed on his fortune to his wife who had worked alongside him for 22 years. In 2008, Florence Doswell donated $3 million, her first major philanthropic effort, to what is now called the Houston J. and Florence A. Doswell College of Nursing.
In 2009, she founded the Doswell Foundation, of which Woods is now a board member. The foundation continues to support Texas Woman’s, most recently with a $1.5 million gift to create a new Nursing Center for Scientific Research and Discovery at the Dallas campus.
“Texas Woman’s has a strong mission that holds a special place in our hearts and family,” says Beverly Fricke, chair of the Doswell Foundation. “We are excited for TWU’s next chapter as the Texas Woman’s University System.” Fricke’s late husband Kenneth Fricke, who died in 2021, was Florence Doswell’s nephew and executor of her estate.
A SPECIAL BOND
TWU nursing students remained special to Florence Doswell until the end—and she to them. She often had her nephew drive her past the campus, just so she could look at it.
“She thought it was amazing that someone who had come as far as she had, could have her name on the side of a building,” said Woods.
The Dallas campus was also the site of her 100th birthday party, where the students presented her with 100 birthday cards. Those cards remained at her bedside until the day she passed.
“When we help students become nurses, we change their lives and their families’ lives,” notes Woods. “They are in a job that does not go away during a recession, that is essential during health emergencies, like the one we are having now, and that gives them the opportunity to have a life filled with meaning and purpose. Who wouldn’t want to give to that?”