Sealy and Smith Foundation For the John Sealy Hospital

By: Leslie A. Watts

Type: General Entry

Published: December 1, 1995

Updated: March 17, 2017

The Sealy and Smith Foundation for the John Sealy Hospital was chartered under the laws of Texas as a charitable corporation and established on March 10, 1922, by Galveston entrepreneur John Hutchings Sealy and his sister, Jennie Sealy Smith. As indicated by its charter, the purpose of the foundation is: "The support of a charitable undertaking in the City of Galveston, Texas, for the construction, remodeling, enlarging, equipping, and furnishing of the John Sealy Hospital, and other hospital building or buildings in the City of Galveston in connection with the John Sealy Hospital in said city, and endowment thereof, for the use of the people of said City of Galveston and providing them with the necessary medical care and attention therein." In accordance with the directives of its charter, the foundation since its establishment has donated and committed more than $900 million to hospital-related facilities and operations of the John Sealy Hospital at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston. The historical precedent for the distribution of funds in support of the John Sealy Hospital preceded the foundation's charter by many years, however, as the Sealy family's tradition of philanthropy has been well established in the Galveston community since the 1880s. The original John Sealy Hospital was completed in early 1890 as the result of a bequest in the will of John Sealy, father of the foundation founders. The elder Sealy, who died in 1884, had stipulated that $50,000 be used for a charitable purpose, and it was decided by his widow and his younger brother George Sealy that the money be used to build a hospital for the people of Galveston. The first John Sealy Hospital was completed at a cost of $69,126.36, the difference being made up by the Sealy family.

John Sealy II and Jennie Sealy Smith during their lifetimes provided continuing support to the hospital named in their father's memory. Over the next thirty years, these two family members provided almost $1 million in funds for expansion and repairs of hospital facilities, as well as covering deficits in operating expenses. In addition to the original hospital, a hospital for women was also built by the Sealys in 1915. Recognizing the necessity for providing a mechanism for the ongoing support of the hospital, John Sealy II launched a thorough study of family charitable organizations, including the Rockefeller Foundation, in the early 1920s and with his sister formed the Sealy and Smith Foundation for the John Sealy Hospital in 1922. The foundation began functioning independently after the death of John Sealy II in 1926. Major projects funded either totally or in part by the foundation have included the building of twenty-five major buildings and hospitals at the medical campus including the second John Sealy Hospital; the R. Waverley Smith Pavilion; the Sealy and Smith Professional Building; the original Shriners Burns Institute, opened in 1966, and the new Shriners Burns Institute, completed in 1992; the John W. McCullough Building; the Jennie Sealy Hospital; the UTMB Administration Building; the Clinical Sciences Building; the Children's Hospital; the John Sealy Tower; the Ambulatory Care Center; the Ronald McDonald House; the Medical Research Building; and UTMB's new Emergency Room and Trauma Center. In addition, the foundation has provided funding to meet deficits in hospital operating expenses as well as for the remodeling of existing facilities, purchasing high-technology equipment, supporting thirty-one academic chairs, and establishing the John Sealy Memorial Endowment Fund for Biomedical Research, which has grown to $60 million. The foundation helped UTMB establish the first Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) Lab constructed on a university campus in the United States. In 2008 the foundation assisted in securing a $170 million grant to the University of Texas system for the construction of the new Jennie Sealy Hospital, which opened in 2016. On February 10, 2016, the University of Texas Board of Regents bestowed the Santa Rita Award to the foundation, which is the highest honor conferred by the institution.

Galveston Daily News, January 10, 1990. Robert B. Nichols, A Bridge to a Better World (Galveston: Sealy and Smith Foundation for the John Sealy Hospital, 1989).

  • Health and Medicine
  • Organizations
  • Foundations

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Leslie A. Watts, “Sealy and Smith Foundation For the John Sealy Hospital,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 13, 2022,

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December 1, 1995
March 17, 2017

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