Charles and Elise Nail have sailed thousands of miles across the world together, sport fishing on their boat, Marlin on the fly. Ever the adventurers, they love exploring favorite stops in Africa, spotting polar bears in the Svalbard Islands and savoring wine tastings on barge trips in France.
But perhaps their most significant trip was a five-hour ambulance ride up the Florida Turnpike from their home in Delray Beach to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville when Charles experienced a critical health crisis in 2018.
His hometown physician told him he required the specialized, multidisciplinary care only a university hospital system could provide. But the weather wasn’t cooperating for a planned helicopter flight. Instead, Charles and an ambulance crew departed for Gainesville — his first time visiting.
“Without those teams of doctors, Charles wouldn’t be sitting here today,” Elise Nail said. “We want to make sure we do our part to enable that type of care to continue.”
Since 2020, Charles and Elise Nail have given generously to the University of Florida. After their initial brush with UF Health, the couple made gifts to support a research coordinator for Thomas Read, MD, FACS, FASCRS, and to start a fund to expand fellowship training in vascular surgery.
Now they’ve continued their philanthropic support by establishing the Charles and Elise Nail Professorship in Colon and Rectal Surgery within the division of gastrointestinal surgery at the UF College of Medicine. While dozens of providers across several disciplines make up Charles’ care team today, it is Read, the Cracchiolo Family Professor and chief of gastrointestinal surgery, with whom they share a special bond.
“Not only do we view Dr. Read as a brilliant surgeon, doctor and leader, we view him as our cherished friend,” Elise Nail said. “He took care of Charles on numerous occasions when we weren’t sure he was going to make it.”
As longtime philanthropists with a particular interest in education, the Nails felt it was important that Read teach others his skillful approach to medicine and empathetic bedside manner. Once the professorship is fully funded, and Read is no longer an employee of the university, it will become the Charles and Elise Nail and Thomas E. Read, MD, Professorship in Gastrointestinal Surgery.
“When you talk to Dr. Read’s students, to anyone who works alongside him, his compassion is evident,” Charles Nail said. “He’s not just teaching them how to be doctors, he’s teaching them how to live.”
The couple feels fortunate to give back to the university that has consistently cared for Charles Nail in his times of need. For them, it’s about training more doctors so that others can also be on the receiving end of the care and compassion they experienced from day one.