Family Matters

January 25, 2024
Jimmy Bagwell and grandsons, Left to right James, John, George and Jimmy Bagwell
Jimmy Bagwell and his grandsons. From left to right: James, John, George, and Jimmy Bagwell.

There’s nothing more important to Jimmy Bagwell than family. His father instilled a love of giving back in him, and now he’s setting an example for the next generation.

What are the most important lessons you learned from your parents?

My mother and father both taught me valuable lessons. My father was very involved in the Charleston community, and he instilled in me the importance of being involved and giving back. He also instilled in me that you have to work hard to be successful and achieve your goals. My mother taught me that if you keep your head up and always have a positive attitude, problems can be overcome.

What’s your favorite quote?

My favorite quote was voiced by Winston Churchill during the darkest days of World War II, when he gave a speech in 1941 while visiting his former school, Harrow School. In that speech, he said, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor, and good sense.” We all face obstacles in life that seem insurmountable, but we have to keep going and never give up.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my family. My wife, Penny, and I have been married for 53 years and we enjoy a wonderful life together. I don’t know where I would be today had it not been for her support. Our only child, Will, is married to another wonderful partner, Bessie, and they have triplet boys who just turned 20 years old and are great young men. There is nothing more important than family and I cherish every moment spent with them.

Why do you give to the MUSC Foundation?

I support the children’s hospital because it has had such a positive impact on the lives of so many children and their families in South Carolina. My triplet grandsons may not have survived if not for MUSC Children’s Hospital. They were born at 27 weeks, weighing approximately two pounds at birth, and spent three months in the NICU. Penny and I visited them every day and there were times we left the hospital in tears from seeing these fragile babies. Because of the incredible nurses and doctors in the NICU, they not only survived, but they are also healthy, bright college students.

What drew you to MUSC?

In 1986, while serving as president of the Rotary Club of Mount Pleasant, I was contacted by Alfred Pinckney of the Rotary Club of Charleston, asking me to assist him in beginning a program to help children with heart defects who lived in countries that hadn’t the resources to help them.

We met with then MUSC President Jim Edwards, asking him if MUSC would be interested in partnering with us in this endeavor. President Edwards worked out a way to do this and that was when the Rotary “Gift of Life” program was born.

I chaired the program for five years and saw firsthand the miracles performed by the doctors and nurses at MUSC Children’s Hospital. The program eventually brought 140 children from around the world to South Carolina for life-saving heart surgery. Then in 2003 my grandsons were born prematurely at MUSC and I again witnessed the miracles being performed at MUSC.

The Gift of Life program brought me to MUSC but the saving of my grandsons’ lives cemented the relationship for me.

Jimmy Bagwell has given to MUSC for 20 years in a row! His loyal giving makes him part of both our Compassion and Innovation Circles. Learn more about MUSC’s Possibilities Circles.