Lessons she taught: Live for others and love the children
Annette Markin was a role model for her husband, so he decided to leave a legacy for her.
From a conversation with Rod Markin
My parents were excellent role models for our family. Dad was always helping family and friends clean, build, sort, ﬁx and organize. Mom was equally helpful with other people’s children, school, volunteering and supporting people in time of need. Together their capacity to give and help others was an inspiration to our family.
Another role model was my ﬁrst mentor here at UNMC, Dr. David Purtilo. He was head of the pathology department. He inspired 13 of us to leave a legacy for the department by creating endowments using life insurance policies, so that when each of us passed away there would be money for an endowed chair and an equipment fund. He said, “We have to make sure the department is prepared 20 or 30 years from now so it has enough resources to carry on the work we’re currently doing.” I was only 30 at the time. That was my ﬁrst experience of somebody laying out a vision of philanthropy for me.
But my greatest role model was my wife, Annette. She taught me and our sons, Chris and Nick, much about living your life for others. Her passion was children – our children, other people’s children, the sick children at Children’s Hospital and every other child she could ﬁnd to help and hold. She taught ﬁrst grade in the Millard school district, and she’d spend signiﬁcantly more than her salary each year on supplies for her classroom. She used to smile and say to me, “You make it, and I’ll give it away.” In 2004, she was diagnosed with a terminal lung disease, pulmonary hypertension. She had to be on oxygen. She had to quit teaching. On days she couldn’t move around too well, our couch became her “nest.” But even then, as she was dying, she found ways to live for others. She and a group of friends started an event that’s raised more than $130,000 for pulmonary hypertension research over six years.
I think you should give back. But it’s got to be more than just monetarily. You have to carefully select what you want to support. It’s got to have meaning to you. One day a few years back, Chris and Nick and I were in our side yard, tossing around a football or a baseball. I told them that we should do something to leave a legacy for Annette. We decided to help build a specialty pediatric center in her honor at Children’s Hospital. We thought it would be great because UNMC medical students and residents have clinical rotations at Children’s, and it would help them, too.
My wife passed away in December 2012. The following August, her likeness was installed in the lobby at Children’s, along with a plaque. My sons and I feel good knowing that people, coming and going, might see her portrait and read her story and also be inspired to live for others.
Early Childhood is a top priority of the Campaign for Nebraska. If you are passionate about helping children from birth to age 8 – the most crucial years for future success in life, experts say – please consider helping the University of Nebraska’s new Buffett Early Childhood Institute become a national leader in the area. You can contact the foundation’s Tracy Edgerton at 800-432-3216 or give online.