Generous donation creates Col. W.F. ‘Tex’  Rankin, Jr.  and Dr. Janice Knebl Veterans Lectureship Series

By Steven Bartolotta

Dr. Janice Knebl
Dr. Janice Knebl
Colonel W.F. “Tex” Rankin, Jr. and Andrea Rankin
Colonel W.F. “Tex” Rankin, Jr.

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC) is honored to announce the creation of the Colonel W.F. “Tex” Rankin, Jr. and Dr. Janice Knebl Veterans Lectureship Series.  

The lectureship is made possible through a generous donation by the widow of Col. Rankin, Andrea Rankin. The lectureship series is named after Col. Rankin and Dr. Knebl, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Interim Chair of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics.  

“I am so very thankful and humbled that Mrs. Rankin has created this lectureship in honor of Col. Rankin and me. It will enable us to invite visiting scholars to provide education to the public with a focus on the veteran community on topics about research, education and care for older adults,” said Dr. Knebl. “This lectureship represents so very well the value that Col. ‘Tex’ Rankin placed on education.” 

Dr. Knebl was the primary care geriatrician for Col. Rankin for more than 25 years. During that time, the family developed a close relationship with Dr. Knebl. Col. Rankin passed away in 2016 after a distinguished career in the United States Air Force.  

“Dr. Knebl means so much to me and she certainly meant the world to my husband,” said Andrea Rankin. “I truly believe that she is the one responsible for turning him into a ‘super senior’ and enabled him to live 96 years filled with physical and mental wellbeing.” 

Col. Rankin spent 30 years in the United States Air Force as a highly decorated and accomplished pilot. He flew 189 missions in World War II, totaling more than 600 hours. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals, three battle stars and a Distinguished Unit Citation. He also received the Nationalist Chinese Medal of Valor.  

After the war, Col. Rankin entered the Harvard Business School where he majored in investment management and finance and was named a Baker Scholar for his scholastic achievements. In 1952, he received his MBA, graduating with High Distinction, which is the highest academic award given to a Harvard Business School graduate. 

Col. Rankin retired from the Air Force in 1970 and began a career working in financial planning and public relations before retiring in 1989.  

Since 1932, he was an active member of the First United Methodist Church. Col. Rankin was a generous philanthropist who helped establish four endowed scholarships at TCU. He also made donations to the Harvard Business School.  

“Col. Rankin was truly inspirational,” said Dr. Knebl. “His background as a World War II ‘Hump Pilot’ that survived, his ability to obtain a Harvard MBA under the GI Bill and his successful careers and investment strategies provided wonderful lessons to me as his physician and friend. He also was most generous with his support of others and his philanthropic activities in establishing scholarships at TCU, his alma mater, for undergraduate studies. He also had unbounding energy and an amazingly positive attitude.  I continue to feel his loss to this day.” 

His relationship with Dr. Knebl began in 1988-89 when she arrived at TCOM (Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine). Col. Rankin brought his first wife, Polly, to see Dr. Knebl after she suffered a stroke. He became Dr. Knebl’s patient in the early 1990s.  

“Knowing how much my husband cared about Dr. Knebl and her work at HSC and the need for more medical information about veterans’ health care issues and challenges, I felt it was appropriate to establish this lectureship to honor both,” Andrea Rankin said.  

Beloved by patients, Dr. Knebl, Regents Professor and Director of the HSC Center for Geriatrics, has devoted more than three decades to treating older adults with skill, sensitivity and dignity. Dr. Knebl is also a Dallas Southwest Osteopathic Physicians Endowed Chair and Professor in Geriatrics, and her team helped craft the “WE HAIL” (Workforce Enhancement Healthy Aging and Independent Living) program, with funding from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. 

“Dr. Janice Knebl is an extremely compassionate and caring physician who makes all of her patients feel like they are the most important person that needs to be seen during her rounds.,” said Andrea Rankin. “My husband was a United States Air Force officer and pilot who retired after a 30-year career. He was a graduate of TCU and received his MBA from Harvard. He always felt like he had been very blessed and wanted to share his blessings with others. One of his ways of doing this was to endow scholarships and professorships at several college and universities.” 

If you would like to make a gift to the Col. W.F. “Tex” Rankin, Jr.  and Dr. Janice Knebl Veterans Lectureship, please go here, click on designation, and type in Veterans Lectureship.

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