Steve Damm: Hospital administrator for Children's Medical Center

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by By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News

wfaa.com

Posted on September 9, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 5:50 PM

Steve Damm lived his life with an all-or-nothing attitude, whether he was at work as a hospital administrator, at home as a husband and father, or fighting an inoperable brain tumor.

Steve Damm

For the past 21 months, he managed to do all three, while maintaining his sense of humor.

Mr. Damm, 40, died Monday at his Frisco home of complications of his grade IV glioblastoma, or, as he called it, that "Damm Spot."

A memorial will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano. He donated his remains to the Willed Body Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas in hopes of continuing his fight against the tumor.

"If he decided to do something, he did it all the way," said his wife, Tyra Damm of Frisco. "He just invested everything, his whole self, into everything he did."

In January 2008, Mr. Damm learned he had a rapidly growing brain tumor that would take his life in three to six months without treatment. With radiation and chemotherapy, he could expect to live about 14 months.

"Steve and I decided we would have more time," Mrs. Damm said of the treatment decision. They decided to keep on living and squeeze in all they could with the time they had.

They chronicled the fight online at , where friends and family shared the family's journey of hope, happy times and hardship.

There were outings with 8-year-old son Cooper and 4-year-old daughter Katie; medical treatments and emergency room visits; vacation getaways.

Blog readers shared the highs and lows - and the love story of Steve and Tyra.

"Now the most difficult part of a church service for me is when the choir sings," Mrs. Damm reflected on the blog in August. "I love their voices, but I can't help but miss seeing Steve in that friendly crowd, hearing his beautiful music."

In February, it became harder for Mr. Damm to get around.

He continued to work full time for Children's Medical Center until June 22, when a pulmonary embolism forced him to reduce his schedule.

"He would save up his strength to do one activity on the weekend," Mrs. Damm said.

Mr. Damm continued to work from his bed until a week ago, his wife said. She blogged that she was holding his hand when he died Monday morning.

Born in Lincoln, Neb., Mr. Damm moved with his family to Houston when he was a year old. He moved to Dallas as a child.

In 1987, he graduated from W.T. White High School in Dallas, where he played trumpet in the band and marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as a junior.

Mr. Damm followed a family tradition and received his bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 1991. He majored in English literature - but discovered his professional path while working part-time as a college student scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins.

His boss there referred him to a medical clinic in Brenham, Texas, said Will Pry, a friend since high school.

The Damms met when Mr. Damm was visiting Mr. Pry at the University of North Texas. Both Mr. Pry and Mrs. Damm were working at the North Texas Daily.

The Damms married in 1994, and Mr. Damm began work on his MBA in health organization management at Texas Tech University. He graduated in 1997.

The couple then moved to Dallas, where Mrs. Damm started working for The Dallas Morning News and Mr. Damm became a health-management consultant for Arthur Andersen. He joined Children's in 2000.

At Children's, Mr. Damm was the first administrator for the medical center's Physicians for Children subsidiary, said fellow administrator Lori Nolen.

Mr. Damm started the Children's clinic near Bachman Lake - the first of four. The clinic now has more than 30,000 mostly low-income patient visits a year, Mrs. Nolen said.

"There are a lot of kids in Dallas who receive primary health care, and that's because of his work," she said.

Mrs. Damm said that her husband always took pride in being the man "behind-the-scenes" getting quality medical care to children.

Mr. Damm maintained his sense of humor throughout his illness, said Mr. Pry, the editor of Briefing, an edition of The Dallas Morning News.

"There was always laughter coming from his hospital room, even during some really dark times," he said.

Mr. Damm was an active member of Holy Covenant United Methodist Church in Carrollton, where he served as a trustee and was a tenor in the choir.

In addition to his wife and two children, Mr. Damm is survived by his parents, James and Elizabeth Damm of Dallas, and a brother, James Damm of Bacliff, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Covenant United Methodist Church in Carrollton. Scholarship gifts for the Damms' children may be sent to The Steve Damm Fund, First National Bank Southwest, P.O. Box 1746, Frisco, Texas 75034.

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