When Dr. Mark Holt saw a bunch of friends, former patients, their parents and dignitaries at what he thought was a routine Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce luncheon in February, he wondered why.
Turns out they were there to honor him.
It was the Chamber’s annual awards luncheon at Denton Country Club and the 73-year-old Texas native and lifelong resident who retired in December after 43 years as a pediatrician, was being recognized for the Spirit of Flower Mound Award.
He finally figured something was up when Jane Nelson, the new Texas secretary of state whose children were among his patients, was seated at his table.
“When I got there, I sort of got the inkling it was some sort of awards luncheon but I didn’t know they would be honoring me,” he said. When Nelson got up to start talking about him, he finally knew.
“It was special in seeing multiple parents and kids of parents I’d seen including Jane’s kids and County Judge Andy Eads and his wife, whose kids I had taken care of,” he said. “It wasn’t something I anticipated or expected. When I started to realize what the honor meant, it’s something I won’t ever forget.”
“You created a legacy that will outlive you,” Chamber Executive Director Lori Walker told Holt a few weeks later. “Not many people get to say that.”
Walker said Holt originally was nominated for the Citizen of the Year Award by Gary Lewis of Bank of the West.
“The minute I got it in my email I said ‘uh-uh, we’re going to give out the Spirit Award this year,’” Walker said. “When we saw it, this is what we’re going to do. And when we learned he was retiring, it was a no brainer. He’s special.”
Holt was just the fifth recipient since it was first presented to Bob Weir in 2004. Others were Mo Salerno, Kim Cloud, and Eads, the most recent winner in 2015. One reason was his connection to PediPlace. He and his MD Pediatric Associates partner Dr. Darla Kincaid co-founded it in 1994 and since have served as consultants, volunteers, cheerleaders, and donors.
“To Mark’s credit and Dr. Kincaid’s too, many non-profit organizations have these incredibly visionary, actively engaged leaders as their founders and find it very difficult to retract after a period of time and let the organization continue to thrive with new developments and allow the new generation of leaders take hold,” said Larry Robins, the long-time Pedi-Place president and chief executive officer. “Both of them figured out how to do that but remained engaged in different ways. I give my predecessors here credit for figuring out a way to make that happen.
“He just has a caring soul. From everything I have heard and people I know who have been his patients, describe him as someone who gives you the time that you need to understand the health and wellness of your child. He viewed every patient as a unique individual in the context of the space that individual lived in.”
Ironically, when Holt first came to the area he thought he’d stay only one year but when that time came he knew he was never leaving. As he grew to love and grow his practice, he had to move to larger facilities in Lewisville for about 20 years, then Coppell in 2010 and added a location in the Riverwalk at Central Park in Flower Mound in 2014. He estimates he’s seen about 20,000 children.
“Forty-three years, that’s a lot of babies, their parents, teens, and all of the above,” he said. “The thing I really appreciated was the sense of continuity with the people I was able to see and speak with. You don’t really feel it’s been that long.
“It was a combination of a good community with good people who are nice to work with. I became attracted to the sense that this area was in a growth curve and that it would be a great place for a pediatrician because growth means parents and babies. That turned out to be more than true. I really feel blessed to have been here.”