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Gift of Friendship Turns into a Gift for Graduating Medical Residents
One of the gifts Victoria furniture store owner M.C. “Buddy” Kamin received on his fiftieth birthday was meeting Michelle Miller Rozzell, a woman who became a dear friend to Kamin and his wife. Several years later, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston has gained a friend in Buddy Kamin as he has established an award for residents interested in the field of oncology to honor Michelle’s memory.
Kamin had known UT Health Science Center at Houston Development Board member Scott Rozzell for more than 20 years, though the two had fallen out of touch until seven years ago, when Kamin, on an impulse, invited Rozzell to Victoria for his fiftieth birthday party. Rozzell brought along his then-fiancée, Michelle Miller, and along with Buddy’s wife, Gormeen, the four-some struck up an immediate friendship.
“You know it’s sometimes hard to find ‘couple friends’ but we all got along so well and we were very compatible traveling companions,” Kamin said. “We had great fun together.”
The couples went on vacations together and often stayed with each other, either in the Rozzell’s Houston home or the Kamin’s home in Victoria. “It seems like we had something planned just about every week-end,” Kamin said.
Unfortunately, the time the couples had to spend was short. After a valiant fight, Michelle Rozzell succumbed to breast cancer in July 2005.
Honoring Friend’s Memory
Buddy and Gormeen Kamin recently established the “Michelle Miller Rozzell Academic Achievement Award” to honor the memory of their friend. The award will be bestowed upon a graduating resident about to enter a fellow-ship in oncology.
In a sense, cancer was one of the things that bound the couples. Buddy Kamin is waging his own war against lymphoma and says that Michelle’s positive attitude and unyielding spirit provided a good example for him to follow.
“She never complained and she didn’t put up with complaining,” Kamin recalled. “If I called her on a day when I was going through chemo-therapy and was having a pity party for myself, she’d tell me to hang up and call back when I got myself straightened out. She always had such a positive attitude.
“Even though these doctors who receive the award will never know Michelle, they should know that she was a hero,” Kamin added.
Making an Impact
Kamin said he and his wife specifically chose to give to the Medical School in order to make an impact on the local level and to target young doctors intent on studying oncology.
“Gormeen and I didn’t want to give to a national organization,” Kamin said. “We wanted to give some-thing in Michelle’s name that would live for as long as we live. We look forward to doing this each and every year for the Medical School.”
Scott Rozzell said he knows his late wife would be touched by the Kamins’ kind gesture and honored that an award in her name might help advance the fight against cancer.
“I can think of no more fitting tribute to Michelle than this very generous gift by Buddy and Gormeen Kamin,” said Scott Rozzell. “Michelle loved both of them dearly, and I know she would be pleased that others will benefit from this wonderful friendship.”
The Kamins hope the gift will grow over time and spawn additional awards or perhaps endowments.
“The award will go to a doctor or doctors specializing in oncology,” Kamin added. “And who’s to say that one of them might not find a cure for her particular kind of breast cancer or my particular lymphoma?”
In the meantime, Buddy and Gormeen Kamin are satisfied knowing they have passed on some of the positive spirit of their friend, Michelle Rozzell, who, as Buddy Kamin puts it, “was truly the architect of making a bad day a good day.”
By Wendy K. Mohon, Institutional Advancement