The magazine of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Fall/Winter 2014

Donna Kato

Patient and benefactor leaves deep legacy

Virgil Traynor first stepped through the doors of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1995, as a prostate cancer patient of Dr. Ralph de Vere White. Grateful for the care he received and eager to give back, he later launched a movement in his Auburn community that helped build the cancer center’s research program into a powerhouse.

Virgil, who passed away at age 76 on September 20, was the engine behind the Auburn Community Cancer Endowment Fund, begun in 2001 with a handful of supporters in the Gold Rush town. Fueled by barbecues, golf tournaments, motorcycle rallies, fun runs and a few large individual donations, the fund hit $1.5 million in 2006 — enough to establish an endowment in basic research at the cancer center.

A beloved veterinarian with deep ties to his community, Virgil never let up on his determination to reach the goal. With potential donors, he was forthright: “You just ask people,” he said at one point, and the effort “just snowballed.”

Income from the fund has since paid for dozens of basic science projects helping to unravel cancer’s most perplexing mysteries. Today, the fund stands at $2 million.

Over the years, Virgil became an important and inspirational member of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center family, inspiring several other community philanthropies and forging lifelong friendships. One of those friends, de Vere White, noted that while the quietly resolute donor would object to being singled out for his contributions, everyone would agree that their mentor, their inspiration and driving force was Virgil Traynor.