April 23, 1999

Cancer Center helps carry on E. Bronson Ingram’s legacy

Cancer Center helps carry on E. Bronson Ingram's legacy


E. Bronson Ingram

The business world knew E. Bronson Ingram as founder and head of Ingram Industries Inc., one of the largest and most successful privately held companies in the United States.

The community knew him as a dedicated leader and generous philanthropist.

Vanderbilt University, Medical Center and Cancer Center knew him as a great friend.

Mr. Ingram joined the University Board of Trust in 1967 and served as its president from 1991 until his death from cancer in 1995. During that time, he also chaired The Campaign for Vanderbilt, which raised $560 million for the University, including a donation from Mr. Ingram earmarked for cancer research at Vanderbilt.

He and his family endowed four chairs at Vanderbilt, including the Hortense B. Ingram Chair in Molecular Oncology, named in honor of his mother, who also died of cancer. The family also funded numerous scholarships and research efforts, including the Ingram Scholars Program at Vanderbilt.

A native of St. Paul, Minn., Mr. Ingram attended Vanderbilt from 1949-50 before transferring to Princeton University, where he received his bachelor's degree in English in 1953.

In 1955, Mr. Ingram joined his father's business, Ingram Oil & Refining Co. after a two-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy. He founded Ingram Industries in 1978 and served as president and chief executive officer until 1993, when he assumed the title of chairman of the board. Ingram Industries then included the nation's largest book distributor, an inland marine transportation business, an insurance company, the world's largest computer distribution company and a major audio and video distribution company. Today, the computer distributor has become a separate public company, Ingram Micro Inc., and the audio and video distribution is a separate, privately held company, Ingram Entertainment Inc.

His extensive community involvement included his long-time support of INROADS, Inc., a national career development organization that prepares college-bound minority youth for careers in business and industry. He was a member and former chair of PENCIL Foundation, through which businesses pledge support to individual schools. And he was known for generous support of the Nashville Symphony and the arts.

Mr. Ingram's civic leadership was also well-known and included service as president of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, as vice chairman of the Tennessee Industrial and Agricultural Development Commission and as chairman of the steering committee of the action phase of Nashville's Agenda, the city's grassroots goal-setting initiative.