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Heroes in Health

Soulmates for Life

Philanthropists Ann and Clarence P. Cazalot Jr. never forget their roots or their blessings.

Some would call their life charmed. They will tell you they’ve been fortunate. The truth lies somewhere in between. Ann and Clarence Cazalot’s life together has been an adventure of incredible highlights, but with some serious personal challenges along the way. Through it all, these former high-school sweethearts remain an inspiration to everyone who has had the pleasure to know them.

“We’ve been together since we were 16,” says Ann, and without missing a beat, Clarence chimes in, “Yes, but we’re only 32 now, right?”

They play off one another with an easy grace, each happy to give the other the floor and plainly used to sharing the spotlight.

“1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime, so it’s important to keep raising funds and awareness for it.”- Ann Cazalot

They grew up in Louisiana, a state they still care deeply about. As evidence, a huge LSU flag stands prominently in the pool area of the beautiful backyard of their home in Memorial. The first in his family to attend college, Clarence credits his parents’ work ethic and his education at Louisiana State University for his illustrious rise through the global ranks of Texaco and Marathon Oil.

He retired as CEO in 2013, allowing him more time to give back to causes he believes in and to serve on the boards of the LSU Foundation and Memorial Hermann Health System, among many others.

The Cazalot’s relationship with Memorial Hermann began shortly after they arrived in Houston, in 1973, when their first son was born at the original Hermann Hospital. Their commitment to support Memorial Hermann came years later, and for very different reasons.

Ann survived a rare form of breast cancer and, more recently, a frightening bout with giant cell arteritis, an autoimmune disorder. The event could have easily left her permanently blind had it not been for the exceptional skills and timely intervention of Memorial Hermann’s affiliated doctors from McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

“We love them,” she says, sincerely. “They saved my life. They saved my sight.”

Clarence and Ann Cazalot

Ann is best known for her work with Memorial Hermann Foundation. Her firsthand experience with breast cancer taught her how difficult and impersonal the fight could be. One fateful afternoon, she and fellow breast cancer survivors – Donna Vallone, Karen Stall and Suzie Johnson – met Bobetta Lindig, who shared her vision of a facility designed to cater to women with breast cancer in a whole new way.

“We all had a passion for doing something to make a difference. Bobetta wanted to create a cozy environment with caring support for the ladies who we all knew were scared enough going into these situations,” Ann says.

Ann, Donna, Karen and Suzie co-chaired the inaugural Razzle Dazzle Pink! luncheon in 2010, benefiting the Bobetta Lindig Breast Care Cancer Center at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center. The luncheon, now a signature Houston event, has raised more than $2.6 million to support breast cancer awareness and innovative services. Clarence shares 40 years of business experience in his roles on the board and as chair of the Memorial Hermann Finance Committee.

Knowing that healthcare can be as unpredictable as the price of oil, he’s pleased to see the organization back on a strong financial track, ready to provide advanced technology and quality care for the next generation of Houstonians.

“We have everything we need to be successful in the future,” he says. “We have to continue to be nimble, not just responding to changes, but anticipating them.”

Some of his proudest work has been promoting Life Flight’s phenomenal services and facilitating the addition of specially equipped pediatric helicopters to the fleet.

Together, Ann and Clarence have supported Memorial Hermann with their time and talent, as well as personally contributing nearly $3 million in support of the new Susan and Fayez Sarofim Pavilion, the relocation of Life Flight, the Breast Cancer Center and so much more.

"We feel the need to give back to our community, the University, health care institutions. That’s been what drives our philanthropy."- CLARENCE CAZALOT

In Louisiana, where state funding for their beloved LSU has declined, Clarence is excited about helping to launch a strategic campaign intended to raise more than $1 billion to allow the University to address critical issues and improve life for the citizens of Louisiana.

“Why wouldn’t we do it?” Clarence says. “We’ve been so fortunate, and it’s such an incredible privilege to help save lives and improve communities.”

This special couple leads a busy life in retirement, and both seem to thrive on the activity. Now that Ann is feeling better, she’s eager to get back to a more active lifestyle.

They have a place in Baton Rouge, which is where you’ll find them during the LSU Tigers football season. And then, there is their beach place in Florida, Ann’s “happy place,” where they can get together with their three children, their spouses and five grandkids. It’s hard to tell which lights up Ann’s face more, the mention of her retreat on the barrier island of Longboat Key or her grandchildren.

“We’re honored to have Clarence and Ann Cazalot as an integral part of the Memorial Hermann family. They view Memorial Hermann as one of their prize possessions that they share with the Houston community.”- CHUCK STOKES

After decades of business travel that took him to 45 countries, Clarence admits he could live without seeing the inside of another airport. “I can sit in my backyard by the pool and relax,” he says, smiling. But, of course, he’s willing to go if that’s on Ann’s bucket list. They plan to start with a trip to Hawaii this summer and, if Ann has her way, to see more of the world together soon after.

Chances are good, Clarence won’t be kicking his feet up poolside quite as much as he’d imagined.