100 Stories

Mrs. Clarabele "Pit" Dodson - A Legacy of Generosity

The Dodson Specialty Clinics building sits on the northwest side of the Cook Children's Medical Center campus and bears the name of one of Cook Children's most generous benefactors, Mrs. Clarabele "Pit" Dodson and her late husband, T.L. Dodson Jr. Hundreds of patients and families walk through the building every day, and each one benefit from the incredible legacy that Mrs. Dodson has been building for more than three decades.

 Clarabele Dodson

Pit was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. From a very early age, she remembers her parents teaching her the importance of giving back and taking care of others. More than just teaching her, they led by example. She has memories of her mother making dinners and bringing them to the Fort Worth Free Baby Hospital. As far back as she can remember, her parents supported both entities that would later become Cook Children's.

When Pit was a student at Paschal High School during World War II, many nurses were serving overseas and the local hospitals were understaffed. She recalls a local physician coming to her school, asking for volunteers to undergo a training to help in the hospital. She didn't hesitate to step in where she was needed.

She went on to marry and moved to a working ranch in Wise County with her husband, where they raised their children. She loved and cared for every animal on that property; from the baby bull she bottle-fed and raised as a pet, to the countless stray cats and skunks she left milk out for every day. And when she wasn't caring for their animals, she volunteered thousands of hours of her time at various organizations in Fort Worth and Wise County, including Cook Children's.

During their marriage, Pit and Tom decided they wanted to know more about Cook Children's. In 1989, they toured the medical center and a passion was ignited. Together, they began supporting Cook Children's. When Tom passed away in 2005, Pit not only remained connected with Cook Children's, but became even deeper engaged.

Pit with the Teddy Bear Transport team

She has flown with our Teddy Bear Transport team, visited Camp Sanguinity, a camp for Cook Children's patients with cancer and blood disorders, and has helped us celebrate our centennial birthday, to name just a few of her Cook Children's experiences.

For more than three decades, Pit has given generously to Cook Children's, her benevolence touching nearly every corner of the medical center and affording us incredible growth. Her most recent gift will help to establish a Neuro-research endowment, as well as a Pastoral Care endowment and support of our Total XVII trial, which aims to provide a more efficient way to treat patients with various forms of leukemia.

Through her generosity, Pit has and continues to build an incredible legacy that will serve the families in our community for generations. But no matter how great that legacy is, it pales in comparison to her.

As we celebrate our last 100 years and look forward to the next 100, we celebrate Pit and her incredibly caring heart.

In her own words

What is your birthday wish for Cook Children's?

"So many things. Of course, you always wish for the babies to all live, and I think that is everybody's wish. I wish for the doctors to be able to understand their calling is what everybody loves and appreciates. I pray for our whole hospital. I pray for them every day."

How did you get the name Pit?

"When I was born, my brother was two years older. And Dad would say, ‘Isn't she a pretty thing?' to my brother but my brother couldn't say ‘pretty.' How he got Pit, I don't know. I guess pretty became Pit. When I grew up, I adopted it because Clarabele is my name, and that was the name of a cow."

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