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Gordon family donates $175K for healing garden

Rendering from the architectural firm Clark Nexsen Rendering from the architectural firm Clark Nexsen

Norm Gordon recalls a traumatic time when his mother fell ill in 1961.

“They couldn’t even find out what was wrong,” he said. “We had to make a 5½-hour drive to Winston-Salem. This was before the interstate highway. After a couple of days they said, ‘This is terminal.’”
Doctors at Baptist Hospital offered to transfer his mother to Johns Hopkins.
“They said, ‘We cannot save you. We can monitor you,’” Gordon said.
But Christine Gordon knew her family couldn’t afford to go out of town for an indefinite period of time.
“She came home and lived about another four months,” he said.
She was 45. Norm was 12.
When Gordon read about the new Pardee Cancer Center in the health sciences building going up on Sixth Avenue at Oak Street, be thought of his mother and how much she enjoyed gardening. He and his wife, Marilyn, and their children have decided to donate $175,000 to become the naming sponsor for the healing gardens.
“I guess what our thoughts are was that my mother loved flowers and plants,” he said. “I guess I kind of look at it like it’s a miracle we’re going to have something like that in Hendersonville.”
Cancer, for the patient and family, is hard enough. “On top of everything else, they’ve got to do all that driving” if they seek treatment in Winston-Salem or the Triangle. Pardee officials say the state-of-the-art cancer center will be unlike any in Western North Carolina. Pardee’s cancer doctors will be able to draw on the expertise of oncologists and researchers at UNC Health Care to ensure the best treatment.
Gordon, the owner of Norm’s convenience stores, has followed Henderson County politics all his life. The five-party agreement that made the $32 million building possible got his attention. On the two floors above the cancer center, the building will house classrooms for BRCC and Wingate University.
“There are a lot of things you can donate to,” Gordon said. “It might give comfort to a lot of people. It can benefit not only the cancer patients but the students that will be there. The way I understand it, you can drive up and park your car and walk into the garden. It will benefit a lot of people is what I’m trying to say.”
Through their own experience with cancer, the Gordons are making that benefit possible, said Kim Hinkelman, executive director of the Pardee Hospital Foundation, which has launched a $6 million fundraising campaign for the cancer center.
“Norm and his family were touched by cancer many years ago and have lived with that story for some time now,” Hinkelman said. “Today, his family is able to step up and make a gift that will create a lasting impact for families touched by cancer for many years to come.
“When you’ve been touched by cancer, it can have that sort of effect on you,” she added. ”When my own mother was diagnosed with cancer, it changed my entire outlook on life. For Norm and his family, they’ve chosen to do something today, right here in their community which will turn the profound impact they experienced into a positive for others facing cancer. We are very grateful that he’s chosen to support this campaign and the creation of the healing garden. I know he has set an example now for our community and I thank him deeply for that.”