Like many individuals, Gordon registered to become an eye, organ and tissue donor, but as he got older, he wondered if age and health issues would prevent him from fulfilling his pledge.
However, when he passed away in November 2009, Gordon gave the gift of sight to two individuals through the miracle of corneal transplantation.
Said his wife of 32 years, Mary Jane, “Gordon would joke with us saying, ‘when something happens to me, my parts wouldn’t be of use to anyone.’ When we found out he could be an eye donor, it was such a blessing for our family. It is wonderful to know that my husband and my children’s father lives on through two other people.”
A father to four, grandfather to three and great-grandfather to two, Gordon spent his life helping others. He served in the Vietnam War as a helicopter crew chief before returning to Illinois to work as both a truck driver and a correctional officer. After he retired, Gordon didn’t slow down – he began serving his community as the Mayor of the Village of Harvel, Ill. In his spare time, according to Mary Jane, he enjoyed motorcycle riding, woodworking and gardening.
A few months after Gordon’s death, Mary Jane received a letter from Heartland Lions Eye Banks, sharing the news that his corneas had helped two recipients escape a world of blindness. Mary Jane had long been on the fence about becoming a donor herself, but once she received the stories of her husband’s recipients, she – and her children – made the decision to join Illinois’ donor registry themselves.
“I told my kids their dad helped me make up my mind. Donation is so important. I want to donate anything I can to whoever is in need. Because of Gordon, there is no question in me any longer.”