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Giving in Action: Creating Hope From Heartbreak

Posted by Connie Harris  on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Alumni News, Giving in Action, Spring 2022, Vanderbilt Community .

When talking with James Buescher about the newly created Margaret McCullough Buescher Scholarship at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, he emphasizes the qualities of his late wife, Margaret, who was always motivated to help others. He hopes to extend that part of her spirit through the students who benefit from the scholarship and are trained as physicians to help their communities from the moment they enter the halls of the School of Medicine.

As he shares his story, it becomes abundantly clear that the fund may be just the perfect way to carry on the legacy of Margaret McCullough Buescher, BA’76. Margaret passed away unexpectedly in March 2020 after a procedure to correct a heart arrhythmia, leaving James to find a way for family and friends to honor her memory.

With the pandemic limiting group gatherings at the time, James began to explore opportunities to celebrate Margaret’s life. As charitable options surfaced, he reached out to Vanderbilt University to learn more about funds that would allow him to make a gift to honor Margaret’s memory. Through these discussions, James realized that not only could he memorialize his beloved wife of 41 years, but he could also potentially prevent other families from suffering such an unexpected loss and the heartbreak that follows.

“In the aftermath of Margaret’s death, while consumed with thoughts of her, I came up with the idea,” he said. “She loved her alma mater; she had a generous spirit; she was the daughter of a physician. So, a scholarship, at Vanderbilt, for medical students, seemed to be the right thing.”

James established the scholarship to pay tribute to Margaret’s deep appreciation for both Vanderbilt and the field of medicine. A math major, she graduated with honors and spent a successful career in investment management. Described by James as brilliant, kind and considerate — perhaps qualities instilled in part by her physician father — she volunteered for and financially supported a wide range of causes and organizations, including Vanderbilt. Margaret wanted to help make the experiences she had as a student available to others.

The circumstances surrounding Margaret’s death resulted in James designating the fund, when possible, for students planning to pursue cardiology programs or electrophysiology studies. In James’ view, having more physicians trained through the unique Vanderbilt curriculum will put more care providers on the front lines to identify illness, treat patients and serve families. In this way, he hopes to make a real impact for others.

As an endowed fund, the scholarship will help School of Medicine students in perpetuity.