A lifetime of giving back earned Jackson attorney Larry Bullen the Jackson Citizen Patriot’s 2017 Citizen of the Year award.
Bullen, who has dedicated most of his life to improving the city of Jackson through community service and philanthropy, said that giving back is a family tradition, passed on from his father, Rex Bullen, Jackson’s “Friendly Doctor” for more than 50 years.
Bullen continued the tradition after completing his military service in the 1950’s. He represented the family behind Acme Industries for decades, and in 1981 he helped found the Weatherwax Foundation, which he continues to serve today. He took over its leadership when the founder’s son passed on in 1996, and estimates that the foundation has delivered more than $30 million to community-focused projects and organizations in Jackson and the surrounding communities.
On a more personal level, Bullen has donated countless hours of service to the community through local organization boards, including the Jackson Symphony, Hospice of Jackson, and the former Foote Hospital (now Henry Ford Allegiant Health). Recently, he personally partnered with his family and the Weatherwax Foundation, donating more than $1 million to create the Henry Ford Allegiance Health Center for Health Innovation & Education, which held a ground-breaking ceremony in November.
Education has always been a focus for Bullen, who began his collegiate studies at Jackson Junior College. After getting his associates degree in 1949, he transferred to the University of Michigan where he earned a B.A. in 1951 and a J.D. in 1954. When his military service ended in 1956, he returned to Jackson, teaching business law courses at the junior college, and later Jackson Community College. Bullen was an active member of the committees guiding the school when it transitioned from a junior college to a community college, ensuring that members of the community would always have access to an affordable, high-quality education. He also created a scholarship for students at the University of Michigan.
Bullen’s mantra comes from a quote attributed to St. Jude founder Danny Thomas: “Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”