COM grad’s legacy will help shape DMU’s future

The DMU community was saddened by the death of Nicholas Conway, D.O.’61, in late April, but his legacy will endure through his many years of patient care, the family and friends he treasured and the lasting impact his generous support of DMU will have on students for years to come.

A family medicine physician in California for nearly four decades, Dr. Conway loved medicine and his medical alma mater. He established the Nicholas R. Conway, D.O. Endowed Fund at DMU to support University priorities and the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“I was saddened to hear of the devastating loss of our dear friend Dr. Conway,” said DMU President and CEO Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D. “He was such a kind and generous man who loved his alma mater and was so proud of its direction and vision for the future. In my first dinner with him, it was as if I were meeting a long-lost member of the family, as he was easy to engage and so much fun to get to know. He picked the location in front of the fish for our picture because he thought it was symbolic in representing ‘big fish’ ideas for his alma mater.

When President Franklin and her husband, Thaddeus (left), met with Dr. Nicholas Conway and his friend Betty Sha, he suggested posing with the fish to represent his medical alma mater’s “big fish” ideas.

“He was so excited to hear of our plans for the new campus and was such a champion for innovation,” President Franklin added. “He will be sorely missed, and we send heartfelt condolences to his close family friend Betty Sha and all those who loved him.”

Dr. Conway’s gifts to DMU, part of the University’s Purple & Proud Campaign, made him a member of the Founders Society, which honors donors of cumulative lifetime gifts of $100,000 and more. To date, funds from the Nicholas R. Conway, D.O. Endowed Fund have been used to purchase new audiovisual equipment and technology enhancements in the Student Education Center Auditorium, updates that enhance and enrich students’ learning experiences.

Because Dr. Conway didn’t restrict the use of his endowed fund’s proceeds to a specific purpose, DMU leaders have the flexibility to use them to address pressing needs and invest in new opportunities. That will be especially beneficial as the University continues to plan and build its new campus in West Des Moines.

Steven Halm, D.O., FAAP, FACP, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, said Dr. Conway’s career and contributions reflect his values.

“Given his years of practice, Dr. Conway clearly was devoted to his patients. With his significant support of the University, he also demonstrated his gratitude for his medical education and his vision for investing in future osteopathic physicians,” Dean Halm said. “We are deeply grateful for his generosity.”

Find out how you, too, can establish an enduring legacy at Des Moines University. Visit the Purple & Proud website or contact the development and alumni relations staff at 515-271-1387 or

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