Issuing a Matching Challenge to the 50-Year Reunion Class

From an early age, Art Kaemmer, MD ’70, has shown enthusiasm for helping others. Throughout his training and practice as a pediatrician, he observed the degree to which the hospital experience could be frightening to children – and he began to take measures to lessen their worry. This approach led to helping institutionalize the field of child wellness.

Art Kaemmer, MD, MCW Class of 1970 medical school graduateDr. Kaemmer’s desire to assist others, and to motivate his peers to do the same, also has been realized through his philanthropic giving. This year, Dr. Kaemmer extended a matching challenge to his fellow alumni from the MCW Class of 1970 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their graduation from medical school. His gift of $250,000 will benefit the scholarship fund previously established by the Class in honor of former MCW President and CEO T. Michael Bolger, JD, so that future generations of students could receive the same educational opportunities that members of the Class of 1970 enjoyed.

Dr. Kaemmer’s gift, leveraged by the Class of 1970 Reunion Committee’s “50 for 50” challenge, was meant to encourage his former classmates to support MCW. “I desired to give back to my medical school alma mater because I feel I owe a huge debt of gratitude for the person the institution helped me become,” says Dr. Kaemmer as he reflects on his numerous generous philanthropic gifts to MCW.

Dr. Kaemmer had a long career as a respected pediatrician. After completing his residency in 1973 at the Maine Medical Center in Portland, he practiced pediatric medicine for his entire career at HealthPartners in Saint Paul, Minn. During these years, Dr. Kaemmer championed the wellbeing of hospitalized children and handed out “Super Kid” stickers to his patients.

In 2011, this desire to give back and his concern for the wellbeing of children led to the establishment at MCW of the Kaemmer Professorship in Pediatrics: The “Super Kid” Chair in Special Needs, now held by Timothy E. Corden, MD, a professor of pediatrics at MCW and director of the Special Needs Program at Children’s Wisconsin. “Children often have a limited capacity to comprehend the circumstances of their illness or hospitalization. I wanted the hospital to be a better place for kids, especially those with special needs,” notes Dr. Kaemmer. He and his late wife, Martha, established the endowed fund to secure resources for children that would improve their experiences during hospital visits and longer stays – and help ease the anxiety that parents and caregivers< experience trying to navigate the hospital system.

One of Dr. Kaemmer’s most memorable moments in medical school occurred just a few days before graduation: delivering his first child in the bathroom in the apartment he shared with Martha. At his commencement, Eleanor Delfs, MD, then the Patrick J. & Margaret G. McMahon Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, singled him out, saying she didn’t know whether to give him an “A” for effort or an “F” for failure to recognize the signs of impending delivery. Perhaps this was a fitting start to a career dedicated to helping children and their families!

– Emily Marquardt

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