Robert S. (Bob) Gordon

GordonRobert S. (Bob) Gordon has dedicated most of his adult life, and his entire career, to Baptist’s mission to create an expert system of compassionate care where love abounds so that God can do miracles in the lives of His children. The culmination of Bob’s exceptional 36-year career at Baptist – where he began in 1977 as a young administrative resident to eventually become executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Baptist Memorial Health Care – was an extraordinary gift to Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation, an endowment that will in perpetuity, fund lung cancer research and enhanced patient care. Bob established the Audrey S. Gordon and Robert S. Gordon Endowment Fund in loving memory of his wife of 42 years, Audrey, who passed away from lung cancer in 2017. “Several years after my wife passed, I was updating my will and started contemplating drafting a future estate gift plan,” says Bob. “I wanted to make a meaningful gift to benefit those who someday will face the challenges we had experienced.” Bob had contributed to Baptist Foundation throughout his tenure as an employee. When Baptist launched an employee giving campaign to contribute to the establishment of the Baptist Reynolds Hospice House in Collierville, Bob felt impelled to make a contribution. “Years later, that facility would become the place where I would spend the final days When Audrey was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, she and Bob talked with Dr. Osarogiagbon, head of the Thoracic Oncology Program at Baptist, about her prognosis and course of treatment. Audrey expressed her desire to receive care at Baptist and to seek participation in clinical trials without having to leave home spending weeks in unfamiliar hotels and clinics thousands of miles away isolated from family, friends, and home. “It became evident to me at that moment just how important it was for Baptist to take a leadership role in bringing research and advanced clinical trials to the Mid-South.,” says Bob. “Not just for those who like Audrey, preferred to stay home seeking “quality of life” along with the potential for an extension of “quantity of life” but also for those who may not have access or the means to even consider other distant options.” Being an employee of Baptist Memorial Health Care further reinforced for Bob how important it is to support such meaningful initiatives, especially those funded by gifts to Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation, for the benefit of others. By establishing the endowment, he put into action the core beliefs that shaped him throughout his life. “I am grateful for my faith, my parents’ examples of living meaningful lives, and the teachings of my Rabbis of the meaning of ‘tikkun olam,’ or our personal responsibility to take action to ‘repair the world,’” says Bob. Timing is everything in terms of rapid changes in oncology care. Bob learned years after Audrey’s passing that another trial had subsequently concluded using medications and treatment that were so successful it is today the preferred means of treating the very cancer that had taken Audrey’s life in 2017. “I am forever grateful to Dr. Osarogiagbon for honoring Audrey’s request to be treated at Baptist by prescribing, what at the time was, a state-of-the-art clinical trial medication that extended her life by more than a year and a half beyond her initial prognosis,” he says. “Painful as her loss was, it helped me understand that the need is now, and that the time to act must also be now, not delayed for years or decades. The improvements to the Thoracic Oncology Program aided by this endowment will benefit others when their time of need is present. It is the intent that lives will be touched and hope given through tangible engagement in and access to cutting edge lung cancer research and patient treatment at Baptist Memorial Health Care.” Today, a lovely dedication plaque greets patients and family members as they first enter the waiting room of the Multidisciplinary Clinic at what is unquestionably the most challenging times in their lives. Bob hopes his and Audrey’s gift, which Dr. Osarogiagbon described as a seed investment, will attract additional research opportunities and funds to grow the breadth of Thoracic Oncology research at Baptist. It already is a shining monument, built on love, to a wonderful legacy. “Many times in recent years, I have paused at the door to that special room at the Reynolds Hospice House which now displays Audrey’s memorial plaque, as I visited friends or the loved ones of friends who were there to express their love and share their final goodbyes,” Bob says. “I am comforted, as I am certain Audrey would also be, knowing others will benefit from this investment in accelerating the further advancement of excellence in oncology care at Baptist.”