Nashville, TN

This Nashville billionaire is giving away millions

Ash Jurberg
Thomas Frist JrPhoto byWikiCommons Images

Next week, the man considered to be the father of Nashville's massive healthcare industry, Dr. Thomas Frist Jr., is being honored with the Nashville Business Journal's Legacy Award.

Not only has Frist done a lot for healthcare in Nashville, but he is also one of the most generous men in the state.

Let's take a quick look at his story.

The richest man in Nashville

Frist Jr was born in Nashville in 1938 and attended Montgomery Bell Academy, a Nashville prep school for boys, where he played quarterback for their state championship football team. He attended Vanderbilt University before joining the Air Force, where he worked as a surgeon.

In 1968 he founded the Hospital Corp of America (HCA) with his father, Thomas Frist Senior.

Hospital Corp of America owns and operates 187 hospitals and 2000 sites of care across 21 states in America. While First no longer works at the HCA, his sons, Thomas Frist III and William Frist are board members.

Thanks to his 20% ownership of HCA, Frist Jr is the richest person in Nashville, with a net worth of $19.6 billion.

And he is giving a lot of his wealth away.


Frist Jr is one of Nashville's most benevolent philanthropists.

He has created the HCA Foundation and also The Frist Foundation, two of Nashville's largest charitable organizations.

The Frist Foundation is "dedicated to sustaining and improving the quality of life in Nashville, Tennessee. It has been a philanthropic leader, serving as initiator, convener, and the catalyst behind organizations like Hands On Nashville, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and the Center for Nonprofit Management."

The First Foundation has awarded over 9000 grants totaling more than $270 million.

Recent grants include $5.4 million to the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, $2.7 million to the Nashville Zoo, $500,000 to Alive Hospice, $1.2 million to Friends of Warner Parks, and $250,000 to the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee.

The HCA Foundation is also a significant contributor to Nashville organizations.

Earlier this year, HCA Healthcare in Nashville announced that the organization and its foundation had awarded over $41 million to community organizations in 2021. Since 1998, the HCA Healthcare Foundation "has contributed over $242,000,000 in grants and matching gifts to more than 500 agencies and organizations, focusing on those that promote health and well-being, education and quality of li"e."

Not only has Frist Jr supported these foundations, but he also encourages other wealthy people in Nashville to donate to local organizations.

Dr. Frist [Jr.] very quietly moved from office to office around Nashville calling on people. He was a quiet but very forceful advocate for philanthropy, and he would invite people to be part of the philanthropic community. … He would tell them it’s one of the joys of Nashville.” Frist Foundation CEO Pete Bird

Your thoughts

What do you think of Thomas FriJunior'sr's efforts to donate and raise funds for Nashville organizations? What other Nashville organizations do you think he should support?

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts and share this article with others so they can join the conversation.

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