A Life Cut Tragically Short, a Dream Continued

Thomas Baker Slick Jr.

In a codicil to his will written in August 1958, Mr. Slick described his life's ambitions: “It has always been my intention to work towards the building up of a great center for human progress through scientific research at our Southwest Research Center. I would like this effort to grow to be as big as it soundly can, and at the same time to embrace as wide a range of scientific research as is practical. Equally, if not more important than size and scope, should be the efforts to achieve the highest quality of accomplishment.”

Tragically, Tom Slick would not live to see his dream through to its completion. Like his father before him, Mr. Slick died at age 46. On October 6, 1962, Mr. Slick and his pilot, Shelly Sudderth of Dallas, were killed in the crash of their twin-engine plane in the mountains of southwestern Montana. The plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza 35, apparently disintegrated in flight some 40 miles south of Dillon, Mont. A few years earlier, Mr. Slick had survived another plane crash in the jungles of Brazil while on a diamond-hunting expedition.

“I know of no other man who accomplished so much in the interest of his fellow man, in even a normal lifetime, as Tom Slick did in an all too short one,” Dr. Vagtborg recalled. “The Carnegies, Rockefellers and Welshs left foundations to start philanthropic programs in the public interest after they passed on. We, however, had the unique and deep pleasure of having Tom, as a young man, with us year by year as we built towards his vision. We shared his enthusiasm and were privileged to work shoulder to shoulder with this modest man who cast himself in the position of co-worker. The endowment he left the Institute is helping us to achieve the goals we set together.”

And so today, Texas Biomedical Research Institute and its sister organizations are living tributes to the great visionary, Thomas Baker Slick Jr. We share his belief that “basic research is the key to life's mysteries” and diligently work to carry out his dream of building a “great center for human progress through scientific research.”