The Gordon Family: On a Mission to Improve Lives

Medical Research
Donor Spotlight

One of the true guiding lights of the modern era of Lankenau Medical Center was the husband-and-wife duo of Joseph and Ray Gordon. Though they have both passed—Joe in 2015 and Ray in 2011—they left an indelible mark on Lankenau and Main Line Health. Both Joe and Ray provided innovative and astute leadership, combined with a generous philanthropic spirit toward Lankenau and LIMR over the course of nearly 40 years of prolific volunteer service to both institutions.

Joe Gordon, a longtime emeritus member of the Lankenau Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees, including an incumbency as its chairman, also served as chairman of the Main Line Health Board of Trustees from 1988 to 1998, and he was a long-time member of the LIMR Board of Trustees. Joe recognized the strategic benefits of Lankenau Hospital and Bryn Mawr Hospital joining forces and played a critical role in the complex negotiations that resulted in the formation of Main Line Health in 1985, with the addition of Paoli Hospital one year later.

Innovations, like the creation of Main Line Health, were nothing new to Joe Gordon, a prominent and respected attorney and banking executive at Philadelphia National Bank (PNB) and its successor, CoreStates Bank. While working as chief counsel at PNB, Joe had his most notable professional achievement: creating the legal framework of the Money Access Center, better known in this region as the MAC automated teller network, now used by millions of people around the world.

The Gordons, through their personal giving and their philanthropic arm, now called The Gordon Charter Foundation, made numerous gifts to Lankenau over the years. In 2011, after Ray’s passing, Joe’s thoughts turned to helping Lankenau in his wife’s memory. The Gordon family turned their grief into action by creating two key philanthropic gifts, bolstering Lankenau’s bedrock clinical programs in both heart care and cancer care.

Lankenau now benefits from the creation of two endowments: the Joseph and Ray Gordon Chief Fellow in Interventional Cardiology, a gift supporting the education of the next generation of physicians at Lankenau; and the Joseph and Ray Gordon Chair in Clinical Oncology and Research, a unique hybrid clinical and research role. The latter aims to translate cancer research from theory to practice, or from “bench to bedside.” This was an idea supported by Joe before his passing and championed now by his daughter Leila, a Lankenau Medical Center Foundation Trustee in her own right and the leader, with her siblings Hunter and Scott, of The Gordon Charter Foundation.

Lankenau’s Medical Distinctions Committee nominated LIMR Professor Scott Dessain, MD, PhD, for consideration for the inaugural Joseph and Ray Gordon Chair in Clinical Oncology and Research, and last year he was unanimously approved by the Lankenau Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees. Dr. Dessain is acclaimed for his research in oncology and immunology and for his clinical work seeing patients at Lankenau Medical Associates. His unusual combination of clinical and research acumen is a critical component of meeting the aims of the new Joseph and Ray Gordon Chair.

Upon being named, Dr. Dessain noted, “In accepting this honor, I am inspired to promote the legacy of Joe Gordon’s inquisitive mind and intellectual spirit in our quest to find new immunologically based therapies for the treatment of a variety of diseases.”

The two endowments stay true to the mission of The Gordon Charter Foundation, which is to improve lives through health care, medical research and educational organizations primarily in the Greater Philadelphia area—a mission that Joe and Ray were deeply committed to in partnership with Lankenau and LIMR and one that is carried on by their children through The Gordon Charter Foundation.

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