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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Ric Bonnell

Medical Missionary in Haiti

It was his first wife’s death in a car wreck that compelled banker Ric Bonnell to reassess his life and career. The Fort Worth native and Fort Worth Country Day School and Duke University alumnus had a bachelor’s degree in history and in 1994 was in his fourth year as a loan officer at Central Bank & Trust when he decided to leave that industry and dedicate his life to serving children. “I initially considered teaching before realizing that becoming a pediatrician was the ideal way to fulfill this mission,” he said. So he returned for a decade of pre-med studies, medical school at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a residency in pediatric emergency medicine through the school at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. From 2006 until his resignation in February to devote himself entirely to local and international indigent care, Bonnell has served as a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. Additionally, he and his second wife, Wendy, who is also a pediatrician, now have run Ruth’s Place Free Clinic in Granbury since 2008. In 2010, faced with an international catastrophe for tens of thousands of children after an earthquake in Haiti, Bonnell organized a medical team from Cook Children’s to travel to Haiti and set up a clinic to treat the thousands in need. Bonnell, 45, has since made several medical-missionary trips to the country. He and wife, Wendy, also have adopted five Haitian children, in addition to their three biological children. They return to Haiti with their children for several weeks each summer where he serves as a consulting physician to the Canaan Clinic. Bonnell was honored with the Humanitarian Physician Award by the Tarrant County Medical Society in 2010. He was named Hood County Man of the Year in 2009 and also received the Cook Children’s Hospital Physician Service Award and the Country Day Alumni Award in 2010.    What drew you to the health care field? I never wanted to be a doctor. I was a loan officer at a bank for four years after college graduation and planned to eventually start my own business. My first wife died in an automobile accident and I decided to dedicate my life to helping children in her honor. Who is your biggest inspiration? My wife, Wendy, who is also a pediatrician. She runs a pediatric free clinic, is mother to our eight children and spends extensive time in Haiti doing mission work. What is your advice for people getting into the health care field? Stay focused on helping patients. It is easy to get bogged down with all the other aspects of the job such as electronic medical records, billing, administrative requirements, etc. and lose sight of the real reason you got into the health care field. – Bill Bowen

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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