In memoriam: Dorothy Pauley, namesake, along with her husband, Stan, of VCU Health Pauley Heart Center

Stanley and Dorothy Pauley

Philanthropist and alum Dorothy Pauley, a long-time member of the Medical College of Virginia Foundation board and a strong supporter of the Richmond arts community, has died. She was 91.

The wife of the late Stanley Pauley, Dorothy Pauley served on the foundation board from 2005-2014. She was known as someone who cared deeply about improving medical care and education. Her generosity through the Pauley Family Foundation helped create the VCU Health Pauley Heart Center.

“The MCV Foundation was fortunate to benefit from Dorothy Pauley’s voice, presence and generosity during her nine years on our board of trustees,” said Margaret Ann Bollmeier, president and CEO of the MCV Foundation. “In her years of board service, not only did she leverage her insights, time and connections to move the foundation and campus forward, but she and her family transformed cardiac care in the region through several large and impactful gifts. Today, the VCU Health Pauley Heart Center is a national leader in so many areas of cardiac care because of Dorothy and her husband Stan’s foresight and generosity.”

A 1974 graduate of the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences, Pauley approached everyone with kindness and grace. She sought to give back to her community and make Richmond a better place.

“Dorothy and Stan were the first people we met when we came to Richmond, and they warmly welcomed us with open arms and a clear desire to see us advance VCU Health Pauley Heart Center,” said Dr. Michael Rao, president of VCU and VCU Health System. “Dorothy carried an air of happiness with her everywhere she went. We miss Stan and Dorothy and remain eternally grateful for their wisdom and generosity, which will leave a legacy of support for human heart health.  Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death among people.”

Alice Goodwin served on the MCV Foundation board with Pauley. She enjoyed her time on the board with her and recalled her as a dedicated public servant who never missed a board meeting. 

“She was such a fine woman and very astute,” Goodwin said. “She was so engaged in anything related to MCV and was devoted to the cause. Dorothy was a lovely person, and I always enjoyed serving with her and hoped to sit next to her during meetings.”

Goodwin and Pauley served on several foundation committees together, and Goodwin said she always enjoyed their interactions.

“She was just delightful. I admired her greatly because she was so involved and dedicated. I loved being in her presence.”

Heart center creation

Stan and Dorothy Pauley created the Pauley Family Foundation in 2006 to provide philanthropic giving in the areas of education, arts, health and human services. The Foundation gave a $5 million gift to VCU Health’s heart center to support research initiatives and comprehensive educational programs. In recognition of the gift, the center was named VCU Health Pauley Heart Center.

“The Pauleys benevolently gave to Richmond and the community,” said Gregory Hundley, M.D., director of the Pauley Heart Center. “Their support was critical to the launch of the heart center. Their gifts have funded research, education, clinical care and the ability of the Heart Center to serve our community locally and beyond the Commonwealth. We are most appreciative of this support and want to express our sincere condolences to Kathy Hickok and the entire Pauley family.”

In 2012, the Pauley Family Foundation gave another $5 million to recruit Hundley and five new research faculty members, along with startup funds for research staff, lab costs and equipment. The funds also created new research programs in cardiovascular disease prevention, women’s cardiovascular health and congenital heart disease.

Support for the arts

Pauley was a strong supporter of the arts community in Richmond. The family made generous donations to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Richmond CenterStage performing arts center, a downtown performing arts complex. To support the downtown project Pauley helped deliver millions to the CenterStage project.

The project included the renovation of the former Thalhimers department store and Carpenter Center. In honor of Pauley’s role in the project, a portion of the performing art center was renamed Dorothy Pauley Square.

In 2013, Stan and Dorothy Pauley were awarded the Architecture Medal for Virginia Service by the Virginia chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It’s the organization’s most prestigious award honoring efforts to improve the architectural environment in the state. The award acknowledges the huge impact that Pauley had on construction and improving the physical environment of Virginia.

Other family support

Beside support for VCU Health, the Pauley family had other impacts on the VCU community.

Stan Pauley was a founding trustee of the VCU College of Engineering Foundation, and the family’s generosity helped turn the VCU College of Engineering into a renowned multidisciplinary research enterprise.

In 2005, when more space was needed for growing academic and co-curricular programming, the Pauleys pledged $4 million to support construction of the engineering school’s 115,000-square-foot facility, East Hall, which opened in 2008. In recognition of their gift, VCU named an octagonal tower of the building the Pauley Pavilion. For years, the Pauley Pavilion housed the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation, which advances innovation and entrepreneurship through cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Dorothy Pauley and her family’s devotion to advancing medical research and patient care extends to VCU Massey Cancer Center. Over the years, the family has contributed about $160,000 to the center to advance critical research conducted by various Massey physician-scientists.

The Pauleys’ legacy will live on for years. The family gave generously to improve the community, especially in regard to health. They will both be missed.