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Retired radiologist, MCG alum pays tribute to parents through endowment

Bill Acton, MD, discovered his father’s philanthropy by accident.

A few years after his father’s death, Acton was running errands one day when he was recognized by a colleague of his father. The gentleman spent several minutes telling Acton what a great man his father, William Acton, was and how much he’d done for the community, including the contributions his father made to a local scholarship program to ensure high school students had the funding to complete college.

“I came back from town that day and told my mother, and she was horrified,” Acton laughed. “She said, ‘Who told you this?’ And when I told her, she said she was going to get on the phone with them and reprimand them.”

She implored Acton not to share the news with his brother and sister. She wanted to honor his father’s wish that all his generosity be kept anonymous.

Inspired by his father’s kindness, the 1971 graduate of the Medical College of Georgia and retired radiologist established the William and Elizabeth Acton Scholarship Endowment in memory of his parents to provide scholarships based on financial need to medical students at MCG, where Acton also completed his residency in 1976.

He admits his parents would likely be mortified to know he named an endowment for them.

“But whatever success I’ve had is because of the influence I had from my parents. That’s where my idea of philanthropy came from, and I wanted to honor them both.”

Acton’s father was a firm believer in scholarships and thought that education was a great equalizer. He considered it a critical element in raising children and a person should take advantage of every opportunity they could to get an education.

The senior Acton made sure Bill Acton and his siblings received a quality education without the burden of working while going to college. Acton said his father believed his job was to ensure his children could go to school worry-free, and their job was to focus on being the best students they could be. Acton himself earned multiple scholarships throughout his academic career.

He established the William and Elizabeth Acton Scholarship Endowment in 2017 as an estate gift and subsequently decided he would enjoy seeing the students benefit from the scholarship in his lifetime. Since then, he made another gift to fully fund the endowment and made annual contributions until it had grown enough to independently generate the funds needed to disburse scholarships.

“This scholarship is going to medical students, and I hope it inspires some of them who received scholarships like I did, that they will do the same when they have the means to give back,” Acton said.

a man holding a piece of paper stands next to a woman facing him and holding on to his shoulder on a sidewalk outside a home as they both smile at the camera
Roy Urum celebrated Match Day
at home with his mother.

Roy Urum, originally from Austell, Georgia, and a fourth-year medical student, is the most recent recipient of the Acton scholarship.

“There were multiple things that brought me to MCG,” Urum explained. “One of the main reasons was being at MCG would allow me to remain close to family during my medical education, as they have always been my biggest support system. Also, many of my mentors and doctors whom I shadowed recommended MCG.”

Urum, who will graduate May 9, was unable to attend MCG’s Match Day ceremony in March but spent the day at home with his family, where he learned he was matched for a family medicine residency at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, Texas. He hopes one day to open his own family medicine practice and combine his passion for family medicine with teaching medical students and residents.

Urum expressed his appreciation for receiving the William and Elizabeth Acton Scholarship.

“This scholarship has provided a lot of financial flexibility for me and my partner,” Urum said. “It has made the transition to residency a lot smoother and has been a big help in paying off some of my student loans. It also allows me to worry a little less about student debt and more about becoming a great physician for my future patients. I hope to one day be in a position to pay it forward.”

Acton’s father also believed in “paying it forward.” He had a philanthropic spirit but also thought that a person didn’t need to be recognized for giving. The act itself was recognition enough.

“I remember there was a patient in my hometown who’d had a heart transplant in Augusta,” Acton recalled. “My father knew him quite well and found out there were outstanding medical bills, so my father, along with another businessman, decided to pay off the bills and never told the family.

“He didn’t have a huge amount of money, but he always felt that if you were blessed with a little extra, you should use it to do something for someone, and I think sometimes people need to be reminded to give back.”

For information about how you can make a lasting impact at the Medical College of Georgia, please contact Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement via email or call 706-721-4001.

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Written by
Valerie Emerick
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Woman's head shot Written by Valerie Emerick

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