Bruce and Diane Halle

Couple who supports Mayo Medical School believes partnership is greater than individual components

By Mayo Clinic Staff

"Together, we are a collective strength that improves health care not only for the individual patient but also for the community and world," Bruce Halle says.

In the company of Bruce and Diane Halle, their connection is palpable. They each had loved before and experienced loss — Bruce lost his high school sweetheart to cancer after 38 years of marriage; Diane lost her husband to pancreatic cancer. They each describe their loss as ripping out half their soul. But they each also see how fate and faith stepped in to repair the damage when their priest introduced them.

"Half of us was dead, and half of us alive," Diane says. "And when we came together, we became whole again. We became a whole team again because the loss of our spouses was so traumatic that it took us finding somebody else of like mind to make ourselves whole again."

Bruce's tale is the classic American up-by-the-bootstraps success story — Midwestern young man gets married, goes off to war (Korea), comes home and gets an education. He tries this idea and that business, but fails the first few times. But he learns from each experience. Then he finds the right idea and the right business, and he opens his first tire store in 1960.

At the store he's a jack-of-all-trades — changing tires, keeping books, painting signs and cleaning bathrooms. The hard work pays off, and by the time he and Diane get married, he owns 272 stores. The couple quickly realize the power of their partnership, as Diane, who had never stepped foot in a tire store, sits in on meetings and learns the tire business. She inspires Bruce to work harder and achieve higher goals.

Today, Discount Tire is the world's largest independent tire dealership in the industry with more than 800 stores, 10,000 employees and sales exceeding $3 billion.

Focusing their power

Beyond business, they've also steered the power of their partnership toward helping others. When they met, Diane referred to Bruce as a "shotgun giver."

"I was giving to this and that and everything around the place but had no rhyme or reason," Bruce admits. "It was just somebody made a request, and I thought it was a good cause, and I would help them."

Diane focused Bruce's philanthropic nature, and in 2002 they established the Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation to make larger gifts that have deeper impact. In 2004, Diane focused Discount Tire's philanthropy by establishing the Driven to Care Program, which enables the spouses of store managers to make high-impact gifts in their regions. (Spouses in Dallas recently gave $100,000 to provide education and human services to high-need, at-risk students.)

Driven to Care inspired a similar program among executive spouses, then another among administrative assistants.

Bruce and Diane believe their recent gift supporting the Mayo Medical School — Arizona Campus and its collaboration with Arizona State University (ASU) will have a similar amplifying effect. They say that just as their partnership produced results beyond anything they could have achieved on their own, the Mayo-ASU collaboration will result in a greater education.

Through this collaboration, the Halles support a medical education that incorporates the science of health care delivery and offers the opportunity for a master's degree. The advanced curriculum and master's give doctors a scientific understanding of the health care system and the tools to improve it.

"Our country gains strength when forces join," Bruce says. "With Mayo Clinic and ASU, we will have a new corps of physicians trained in medical excellence and health care delivery innovation focused on the needs of the patient. Together, we are a collective strength that improves health care not only for the individual patient but also for the community and world."