Medical doctor recognizes the impact of fine arts through scholarship in memory of Phil Evett
by Nicolette Good '07
While Dr. Mark L. Bing '72 studied biology at Trinity, he also explored art classes, taking the interdisciplinary path many Trinity students are familiar with. Though his career path steered him into the medical world, the art he dabbled in—and, especially, one particular art professor—left an impact on him. Bing has recently given $100,000 in support of an art scholarship in memory of Phil Evett, Trinity Professor Emeritus of art and noted sculptor. Evett died Aug. 5, 2016, at age 93.
Just as Bing’s studies were two-pronged, his giving also reflects his varying interests. He has also substantially supported Trinity’s football stadium, which comes as no surprise. The board-certified internal medicine specialist has been sports team doctor for the roaring Katy Tigers since 1982. He’s earned eight state championship rings and a spot on the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
But, Bing’s desire to commemorate his art instructor tells a less expected story, one that took him through the arts, language, literature, athletics, and eventually studying medicine abroad, before settling down back home in Katy. “I did not take the ordinary path,” Bing says. “But it led me to become who I am.”
Bing did not know much about Evett’s life. Still, he admired him greatly. “Professor Evett was a very good man—gentle and kind,” Bing says. “He brought your creative juices to the forefront.”
Evett was born in Swanscombe, Kent, England and studied at the Cambridge College of Art. During WWII, he served as a member of the Royal Air Force.
The flexibility of Trinity’s pre-med track gave Bing an outlet to explore art and other subjects while still pursuing sports and medicine. Courses like Evett’s were a welcome contrast to Bing’s core biology classes, most of which were “8 o-clockers,” as he called them. Semesters in Evett’s art studio encouraged mental agility and hands-on study. Bing says, “I wasn’t the best art student, but I had a pent-up need for sculpting.”
Art was a much-appreciated side pursuit to Bing’s focus on sports and medicine, a path that seemed inevitable. He grew up on the sidelines of the Katy High School football team, in the shadow of his late father, Dr. Lyndon Bing, who was a team physician for Katy High School from the early ’50s through the late ’80s. “As a kid, I saw how fast my dad was,” says Bing. “He could fix a dislocated shoulder faster than anyone. He’d get a player x-rayed and have him back by the next quarter.”
Bing, too, was no stranger to practicing medicine under pressure, but he would soon be tested in a remarkable way. After graduating from Trinity, he set out for Central America to pursue his medical education at Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala in Guatemala City. He provided primary care and delivered babies in the impoverished country.
On Feb. 4, 1976, at around 3 a.m., the ground beneath Mark Bing’s bed began to roll like waves. A 7.5-magnitude earthquake had just leveled the better part of Guatemala City, 10 miles north of Bing’s medical school. “It was like a freight train rumbling,” Bing says.
But Bing’s focus wasn’t on his own safety, but that of his patients. He says, “We got out of bed and went to the hospital to calm down our patients.”
The hospital was constructed by U.S. Army in the 1940s, and it was physically unharmed by the quake. But for several days, he was sewing up patients under flashlights as the country responded to the devastation. The earthquake killed 23,000 people, injured 77,000, and left 1 million homeless. “I saw lots of psychological trauma,” he says, “due to the fact that [the patients] were safe—not out there with their families who may not be safe. We just tried to help the people we could. It is still overwhelming.”
He completed his residency at Marshall University School of Medicine in Huntington, West Virginia, before returning to his hometown of Katy to practice medicine alongside his father.
Bing believes there is a lot to be learned living in a third-world country. Despite our increasingly global society, he still thinks we underestimate cultural exchange. “The current interchange, especially with China, is a great thing,” he says. “It’s greatly undervalued.”
Bing’s own cultural exchange opportunity continues to shape his life and career to this day. He was immersed in the language and was reading novels in Spanish by the end of his stay. His bilingual skills have attracted Spanish-speaking patients to his practice. “I enjoy taking care of them a great deal,” he says. “Often in the case of my older Spanish-speaking patients, I’m able to translate when their families don’t speak as much of the language.”
One such family stands out. “They’ve kept me grounded,” Bing says. For decades, he has treated this family’s colds, bumps and bruises, and even aided in the birth of a child. “Every time I think I’m tired or ready to hang it up, they call me. You do what you can to help people not suffer.”
Nicolette Good graduated from Trinity University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and music. In addition to being a traditional writer she is a working singer/songwriter as well as a staff musician for Home Street Music, a nonprofit using music to empower individuals who have experienced homelessness. You can reach her at nicolette.good [at] gmail.com.