For the late Mark Chapman and his wife, Cheryl Mellenthin, nothing was more satisfying than sharing what they had with others, hoping to enrich the lives of others and make an impact not only in Texas but across the United States.
Since 2017, Cheryl has become one of the college’s most loyal supporters, having funded multiple causes within the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS).
Her most recent commitment provides a substantial gift to support the college’s $100-million campaign to build a new Small Animal Hospital.
That campaign will allow the CVMBS to update and expand the existing Small Animal Hospital, which was designed in 1981, when educational methods were less collaborative and specialization in veterinary medicine was in its infancy.
Mellenthin’s goal for her gift is to fund and name a memorial garden at the future hospital, which will create an outdoor area for clients to reflect on the profound impact their pets have on their lives.
The Spirit Of Generosity
Cheryl and Mark met in Houston, where Cheryl was a nurse and Mark was a real estate investor. After the real estate market crashed in 1987, Mark began to invest in the oil and gas industry.
“Everything Mark touched turned to gold,’” said Carla Reichardt ’04, director of the Chapman Foundation and a friend of Cheryl and Mark’s.
With their success in oil and gas, the couple decided to purchase dozens of farms in Kansas, Mark’s home state, and Nebraska.
Mark graduated from Kansas State University (KSU) and received his Juris Doctorate (JD) from the University of Texas (UT), Austin.
He became a major supporter of KSU, with his gifts establishing the Chapman Center for Rural Studies in History, an art gallery, and the Chapman Scholars Program in the College of Arts & Sciences. Every piano at KSU is a Steinway, a gift from Mark to support his love for the fine arts. He also funded the Chapman Theatre, replaced all of the stained glass in the beautiful KSU library, and provides numerous scholarships, in addition to the Chapmans Scholars Program.
The couple also supported Cheryl’s alma mater, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Nursing.
Additionally, the Mark A. Chapman Foundation annually supports numerous students from Texas and Kansas by providing them with scholarships to pursue their dreams.
“Mark was someone who never met a stranger—people sitting next to him on a plane or someone in line at Walmart soon became a friend—and after learning about their goals, he would offer them scholarships to pay for school for themselves or for their kids,” Cheryl said.
A lover of animals, Cheryl has also made animal rescue a significant part of her charitable giving; she now runs an organization called Prevent Unwanted Pets (PUPS) that assists families with spaying and neutering their pets. The organization funds more than 20,000 spays and neuters each year and helps adopt out approximately 400 pets each year.
In 2017, Cheryl learned about the extensive and lifechanging work happening in her own backyard at the Texas A&M CVMBS. She knew right away that she had found her next university family and established the Mark A. Chapman Endowed Chair to support faculty research related to shelter medicine within the CVMBS. She also funded a new microscope for the SAH’s Ophthalmology Service to honor her longtime Aggie veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Bowers ’80, of Bellville, Texas.
Mark and Cheryl were united for 27 years before Mark passed away in 2014. The couple spent their time together traveling and caring for their beloved animals. Mark was also an artist, a poet, and lover of the fine arts.
“Mark taught me that we should support what we care about during our lifetime,” Cheryl said. “I told him, ‘If you give it away now, you can put your money where you want it to go, rather than have that be determined by someone else after you’re gone.’”
For more information about supporting the Small Animal Hospital campaign with a naming gift or to become A Friend of the Hospital, please contact Larry Walker, Senior Director of Development with the CVMBS, at email@example.com or (979) 845-9043. To make an online contribution to the campaign, visit the Texas A&M Foundation’s online giving portal.