The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
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Mendozas Establish Chair in Radiation Oncology at UTMB
Dr. Sandra Hatch, the first to hold the Mendoza Chair.

Jesse Mendoza's initial connection to The University of Texas Medical Branch began 72 years ago. As a 9-year-old boy, he developed polio and received treatment at the academic health center, recovering from the then-widespread childhood disease.

Mendoza's life in the island city moved forward. He became a barber at age 16 and bought his first piece of real estate a year later. In 1953 he courted Irma Labardini, and the two quickly became inseparable. Their marriage the following year began a lifetime of hard work, affection, commitment to saving and smart real estate investment. The Mendozas continued to prosper; 15 years ago, Jesse retired, giving his brother the keys to his barbershop.

The Mendozas' life together over the decades was tested in 1997 when Irma was diagnosed with cancer. So the Mendozas turned to UTMB-just as Jesse had so many years ago.

Irma received treatment and encouragement from "guardian angel" Dr. Sandra Hatch and became cancer-free for seven years. During that time, the Mendozas lived to enjoy their moments together, traveling every other month. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Hawaii. But Irma's health began to deteriorate as her cancer returned, and she lost her battle with the disease last year.

In gratitude for the additional moments they had together, the Mendozas established an endowed faculty position in UTMB's Department of Radiation Oncology just prior to Irma's death. The Irma Labardini Mendoza and Jesse Jesus Mendoza Chair in Radiation Oncology is the second endowed chair and fifth endowed position created for the department. It supports innovative research, makes possible new technologies to enhance patient care, fosters UTMB community programs and encourages collaboration with other radiation oncology physicians around the world. Mendoza plans to increase the endowment to the one million dollar distinguished chair level.

Irma and Jesse Mendoza

Hatch, Irma's longtime doctor, is the first to hold the Mendoza Chair. "I am honored to have my name associated with Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza," she said. "We share the fundamental commitment to the concept of patient-focused care. The endowment will allow our work at UTMB to continue to bring hope, health and healing to the breast and gynecologic cancer patients that we serve."

Jesse Mendoza is proud that he and his late wife were able to create an endowed faculty position that can help countless other cancer patients. "Early in life, I learned how to make money, then how to save money," he said. "Finally, I had to train myself to give and to give from the heart. The rewards of giving are great. It seems like the more I give the more I receive."