After Bruce’s passing, Laughlin and his late wife Cookie began their involvement with the division’s Cardiac Research Council, where they met and worked alongside Brooks and Susie Ragen.
In addition to Bruce, Laughlin had other ties to the University of Washington. He graduated from the UW College of Arts and Sciences in 1966, remaining connected to his alma mater as an avid Husky fan. The founder of a successful family business in the electrical industry, Laughlin brought his knowledge of sales and marketing to his volunteerism.
Their working group soon decided that UW Cardiology was possibly the best-kept secret in the region. “Our mission was to change that perception with friends and community leaders and explore possibilities for support,” Laughlin says. Years of activity and progress followed, including outreach and events, lunch-and-learn sessions, time spent with cardiology’s innovators, lab tours with prospective donors and more.
Laughlin has further honored Bruce’s memory with the John and Cookie Laughlin Endowed Professorship in Cardiology in 2012 and the John Laughlin Endowed Professorship in Cardiovascular Research in 2016. Around that time, Laughlin began chairing the Heart Health Campaign Council in support of UW Medicine’s Accelerate fundraising campaign, which concluded in 2020.
“In this way, Dr. Bruce’s legacy lives on and expands,” says UW Medicine CEO Paul Ramsey. “UW Cardiology is no longer the best-kept secret. Its global reach furthers our mission to improve the health of all people.”
Each spring, in more normal times, Laughlin and his family celebrate the Bruce-Laughlin Fellow in Cardiology with a dinner and attendance at Cardiovascular Grand Rounds, where the recipient fellow speaks. He has also supported the Cardiovascular Research Fund and the Dementia Physician Training Fund, led by Dr. Barak Gaster.
“Giving is such a personal thing and can be done in so many ways, not all with money,” says Laughlin. “For me, the real joy over the past 15 years is working alongside such wonderful, brilliant and talented people — like the doctors who have shared their work and become family friends, and philanthropists like the Ragens. I also love the lectures and seeing the current head of the Division of Cardiology, Dr. Robb MacLellan, continue to build the globally recognized division.”
Still, Laughlin has no intention of resting on his laurels while there’s more work to be done. “Everything requires funding,” says Laughlin. “Cardiovascular disease accounts for more deaths than any other disease in the world. Problem-solvers make our lives healthier and better. We’re so fortunate to benefit from the impact of the UW School of Medicine.”