“Never a question of giving back”James F. Densler, M.D., a 1961 graduate of the School of Medicine of Meharry Medical College, and a retired pediatric surgeon and his wife, Mable Wesley Densler, RN, a 1962 graduate of the School of Nursing of Meharry Medical College, lend emotional credence to Meharry’s mission of serving the underserved whenever they speak of their alma mater.
While attending Meharry, the Denslers remember their professors with admiration. Said, Mrs. Densler, “They cared so much so, that they did everything in their power to make sure you passed your tests, boards, whatever it might be. They made themselves available at any time and they not only wanted you to graduate, they wanted you to succeed. When you graduated from Meharry, you were prepared!”
Dr. Densler comments, “My professors taught me everything. By the time I became a resident at U. S. Public Health Service Hospital in Staten Island, N.Y., I knew so much more than my counterparts. They would ask me how to do procedures such as, suturing, spinal taps and even drawing blood, things I had excelled in while at Meharry.”
They both feel Meharry is their home away from home. “Meharry taught us how to serve from day one,” said Dr. Densler. “It’s not about who can pay or who can’t, we were taught to care for everyone.” Mrs. Densler agrees, saying, “You cannot care for a patient if you don’t care about the patient.”
Since their graduations, the Denslers have faithfully given back to Meharry. “It was never a question about giving back,” they maintain. “We give so future generations have a chance like we did.”
In 2011, Meharry was honored to have the Denslers become the first husband and wife to become members of the Guardians of Our Legacy (those alumni who have contributed $100,000 or more to Meharry) with Mrs. Densler being the first School of Nursing graduate to become a Guardian. Both of these accomplishments, though impressive, are simply natural for the Denslers. “Giving back to Meharry is just a token of what was given to us,” they both agreed.
“I give to Meharry Medical College because it was one of the only two medical schools at that time that really accepted and nurtured black students. Therefore, I never forget that Meharry gave me a chance to realize my dream of becoming a physician,” said Dr. Densler.
Mrs. Densler explains with emotion, “I was in the last class of the nursing school at Meharry Medical College. No school of nursing in my hometown of Birmingham would accept me as a student because I was black. Meharry accepted me at the very last minute. I can never ignore that fact.”
The Denslers reside in Atlanta. They have two sons, Duane Wesley Densler, M.D., a 1999 graduate of the School of Medicine of Meharry Medical College, who is now a practicing neurosurgeon in Pikeville, Ky. and James F. Densler Jr., a U.S. postal worker in Atlanta. They also are the proud grandparents of 8-year-old Zoltan Densler.