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Marilyn H. Vincent Professorship in Diabetes Research
Written by Kevin Bergquist

Marilyn and Burton Vincent

When Marilyn “Molly” Hall attended a fraternity party at the Lambda Chi house on the University of Michigan campus in the winter of 1947, little did she know she soon would meet the person with whom she would share the rest of her life — Burton J. “Burt” Vincent. Molly and Burt were introduced, and at the end of the evening Burt inquired that he would like to see her again. Molly responded, “I don’t see anyone.” Well, they did begin to see each other, and on subsequent dates a love grew between these two like-minded individuals that would last a lifetime. Fate brought them together that evening in this campus town, something that became a recurring theme in the family.

Molly grew up in Ann Arbor at #4 Jefferson Court with her parents, John and Alviena; three sisters, Mary Lou, Nancy and Judy; and a brother, John, who passed away at age 11. She had returned home after a tour of duty in the Navy and was taking courses at the U-M to pursue her lifelong interest in art. Burt had grown up in Ohio and had returned to Michigan to continue his studies in business after leaving campus following his freshman year to volunteer for the Marine Corps. He served three years, including active duty in the South Pacific. Like many of their contemporaries, they were ready to move on and enjoy the best of life. In June 1947, Molly and Burt were married in a garden ceremony near her family home.

Burt and Marilyn on their
wedding day

The following year, Burt completed his degree in the School of Business, while Molly prepared for their future home and family. The Vincents initially made their home in Chicago before moving to the western suburb of Glen Ellyn with a group of close friends. In 1948, Burt began his career as a securities salesman for a La Salle Street investment bank. He became the firm’s first commissioned salesperson and built individual investment advisory relationships that lasted his career. In 1954, he realized a lifelong desire to start his own business, Burton J. Vincent & Company, a regional investment bank. Shortly thereafter, he established a specialty food holding company that eventually was listed on the NYSE as Capitol Food Industries before he took the company private again late in his career. Through these two enterprises, Burt built a successful career and reputation as an independent and respected businessman in the Chicago community.

Molly shared the same independent and creative spirit at home in raising their children — Burton J. Vincent Jr. born in 1949 and John S. Vincent born in 1954 — and in decorating their homes in her unique style. During their years together, the Vincents often returned to Ann Arbor — where Molly’s parents still lived — for family visits and U-M football games. Molly’s sisters and their husbands; son, John, and his wife; plus Burt’s brother, Dwight, and his wife and three children, all attended the University of Michigan and met their respective spouses here. After Burt’s sudden death in 1996, Molly made a gift in his honor to the Business School to establish a scholarship for business students.

Molly had an aunt who was diabetic, but the disease struck closer to home when Burt Jr. became a type 1 diabetic at age 20. In her sixties, Molly became a type 1 diabetic herself and found the changes to her lifestyle challenging. She researched the disease and considered ways in which she could make a difference in helping independent people, like herself, cope with the ravages of diabetes. At the time, she decided to leave her legacy where it would do the most good — supporting research to seek a cure and to build better lives for those suffering from the disease. Molly lived the latter part of her life in Naples, Florida, and was loved and admired by all who knew her or worked at her side.

Following Molly’s death in March 2006, at her bequest the family established the Molly Vincent Foundation to make charitable contributions in support of diabetes research. The U-M, with its exceptional reputation in scientific research and cooperative work with other institutions in achieving medical advances, provides an appropriate platform for implementing Molly’s generous gift and vision.

Dr. Peter Arvan, John Vincent, Dr. Martin Myers, Burt Vincent Jr.,
and Dr. James Woolliscroft

Burt and John serve as trustees of the foundation and have been instrumental in the creation of the Marilyn H. Vincent Professorship in Diabetes Research held by Dr. Martin G. Myers Jr., M.D., Ph.D

Dr. Myers, U-M’s Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, conducts innovative research on insulin resistance and specifically on the processes that enable the body to respond normally to insulin, and how problems in these pathways contribute to the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.

The professorship will forever honor Molly’s vision and ongoing commitment to helping others and allow the U-M to continue its groundbreaking work in diabetes research.