Tribute Gifts

Tribute gifts to the HudsonAlpha Foundation offer you a thoughtful way to celebrate a special person or occasion while accelerating our mission to create a healthier, more sustainable world. Donations can be made in honor or memory of a loved one and designated to support any research area of the Institute, combining the passion of donors with the work of scientists. Tribute gifts may be made in any amount, however, named tributes start at $25,000. Named tribute gifts are listed on the HudsonAlpha Foundation website. If you would like to establish a named tribute, please contact the HudsonAlpha Foundation at 256-327-0442.

Named Tribute Gifts

When Leroy “Lee” McCurry Hair passed away from a form of Parkinson’s disease, his wife Patricia knew she had to prevent future generations from suffering from the same disease.

Patricia designated a generous donation from her estate to HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology to fund the Leroy M. Hair Memorial Tribute Gift, which was established following her passing in the spring of 2023. The funds support the Institute’s Memory & Mobility Program, a research program focused on neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and dementia.

Lee had an adventurous spirit and a passion for flying, leading him to work as an engineer in the aerospace industry and to get his pilot’s license to fly small private planes. When Lee was in his mid-sixties, the family noticed changes in his cognitive and physical abilities. He was eventually diagnosed with a form of Parkinson’s disease, which progressed slowly over the next ten years until his passing in 2008.

“Knowing who my father was and what he was capable of his whole life, it was heartbreaking to see what the disease had taken away from him,” said Brad Hair, Patricia and Lee’s second son.

As the retired city planner for the City of Huntsville, Patricia was deeply involved in the community. She became a passionate supporter of HudsonAlpha, giving generously of her time and resources throughout her life.

Patricia ensured that Lee’s memory and her drive to make a healthier future persisted through the Leroy M. Hair Memorial Tribute Gift.

“I’m amazed at everything my mother did for HudsonAlpha,” said Brad. “She was driven to make a difference knowing that even if her donations couldn’t help my father, they could someday for her sons, her grandchildren, and generations to come. She was always putting others first.”


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The family of Arvid Wakefield established the Annihilate ALS Tribute Fund in memory of their brother-in-Law.

“Defeating ALS has become very personal to our family,” said Brian Hinson. He and his wife, Jane, established the Annihilate ALS fund at HudsonALpha.

Hinson’s brother-in-Law, Arvid Wakefield, who was married to Hinson’s sister, Dawn Wakefield, was diagnosed with ALS in October of 2010 at the young age of 43. He died from the debilitating disease April 11, 2014.

“Our family witnessed the horrendous disease ALS take Arvid’s Life,” said Hinson. “During this time, we painfully realized that 75 years had passed since Lou Gehrig put a visible face and name to a disease that has no treatment or cure and an average Life expectancy of five years or Less after diagnosis.”


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Sisters Johanna Cleary and Susan Sommers have established the James R. and Voncille J. Cleary Fund for Neurological Research in honor of their parents.

“Mom has followed HudsonAlpha since its inception,” said Johanna Cleary of her mother, Voncille Cleary.

In fact, Voncille has attended numerous HudsonAlpha public education classes and is a big fan of Vice President for Educational Outreach Neil Lamb, who Leads the Biotech 101 and 201 series.

The Clearys actively contributed to the growth of Huntsville. James Cleary established the Army Legal office at Redstone Arsenal and practiced Law for 56 years.

In addition to Law, James was a founding partner of WAFG, which Later became WAAY, founder of The Huntsville News, which he later sold to The Huntsville Times, and a founding director of Security Federal Savings and Loan. He also developed residential and commercial property in northwest and southeast Huntsville through his company Economy Homes and served on the Madison County Airport Authority from 1968-1986.

Voncille was a registered dietitian, the first accredited one to be hired by Huntsville Hospital. She also helped raise funds for the purchase of the first public Library bookmobile and has been active with other civic organizations.

The sisters chose to direct their fund to neurological disease. It is an area where they feel they can make a difference and that is close their hearts. “Our family has been directly affected by neurological disease,” said Johanna. “From our conversation with researchers here at HudsonAlpha, it’s clear that what they are doing can make treatments better for people and ultimately result in solutions.”



Wayne Widener lived for more than a decade with a rare neurodegenerative called corticobasal degeneration [CBD]. After his diagnosis, Wayne and his family spent years consulting specialists before finally learning there is no known treatment. With the help of his wife Luanne, his daughter Peri, other family members and an amazing family doctor, Wayne continued to live life as fully as possible. He passed away on March 23, 2013.

“During the decade of Wayne’s journey, we learned that there was no significant research into this family of diseases,” Luanne said. “My daughter and I are establishing this fund in an effort to shine a light on these rare and currently untreatable neurodegenerative diseases and to fund research that will hopefully unlock a treatment that will help others.”

There are more than 600 known neurodegenerative disorders affecting an estimated 50 million Americans. Researchers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology are actively working to identify the genetic causes of these disorders.

“HudsonAlpha has attracted globally recognized researchers who are focused on finding answers, treatments and perhaps cures for this family of diseases,” Peri said. “Even better, HudsonAlpha is a world-class organization in our adopted hometown. My father would be thrilled that such a renowned team has made it a priority to help others live with and beat these diseases!”


Wayne Widener was born and raised in Cleveland, Oklahoma and attended high school in Wichita where he was quarterback for the Planeview Gremlins. Wayne attended Wichita State University and had a successful 42 year career at Boeing. He retired while serving as the director of contracts. The highlight of his career was working as the lead negotiator for Boeing on the original Space Station contract. His hobbies included golfing – he was the 1963 Wichita City Golf Champion – gardening and fishing. He was a devoted husband and father and loved spending time with his family.

After Wayne became ill, he was able to stay physically and mentally active as well as socially engaged with the help of his wife, family, doctors, volunteer caregivers and friends. Wayne was determined to make something good come from a bad disease. He wanted to help others suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and asked his family to support research into finding treatments and cures.

After Wayne became ill, he was able to stay physically and mentally active as well as socially engaged with the help of his wife, family, doctors, volunteer caregivers and friends. Wayne was determined to make something good come from a bad disease. He wanted to help others suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and asked his family to support research into finding treatments and cures. “

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In 2011, Rebecca Partesotti died from suicide after a years-long battle with depression. Rebecca’s parents Susan and Larry Partesotti, her sister Mollie Partesotti; along with Susan’s brother (Rebecca’s uncle) Tommy Siniard, his wife Susan Siniard and sister Paula Siniard Tally (Rebecca’s aunt) established the fund in her honor.

“When Rebecca was in the second grade her mom and I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. ‘I want to be someone who helps old people’ was her reply,” said Larry Partesotti, Rebecca’s father. “Twenty years later, Rebecca’s compass was still heading to True North as she was supervising The Elder Division of Maryland Legal Aid. Shortly thereafter, mental illness cut her career and eventually her life short. The thought of potentially making continued progress into creating solutions and cures to mental health issues is something that is very important to Susan and I and we are glad to move forward with our daughter, Mollie, Paula and the Siniard family in this important work.”

“We believe in the research that is happening at HudsonAlpha so we established this fund to not only honor Rebecca, but accelerate advancements in psychiatric disorders,” said Susan Partesotti, Rebecca’s mother.

The HudsonAlpha Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the supporting entity for the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Tax-deductible contributions to the foundation are for the sole purpose of advancing the mission of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

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