Eva Gordon was a hard-working woman who was ahead of her time. Having lived a long and happy life she had few regrets, save one: not having a formal education herself.
“If I had a scholarship when I got out of high school, I could have done so much more,” Gordon said in a 2013 profile by South Seattle College.
Thanks to a generous gift of nearly $10 million from the Eva Gordon Estate, the students at Grays Harbor College and 16 other Washington community and technical colleges will have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. The gift is one of the largest to community and technical colleges in Washington State, with each college foundation receiving approximately $550,000.
“At GHC, we will be forever grateful to Ms. Gordon for her generosity and especially for her impact on our students, even though they will never meet,” commented Dr. Jim Minkler, GHC president. “With more than 80 percent of our student body receiving financial assistance to realize their educational dreams, now our Foundation will be able to provide even more opportunities,” he added.
Gordon, who passed away in June 2018 at the age of 101, grew up on an orchard in Eugene, OR, and graduated at the top of her high school class. Little by little, she invested money from meager paychecks to build a fortune and give back to others. During this time, Gordon loved seeing college students work hard and improve their lives, wishing she could have been a student herself if money had not been so tight in her younger years.
“A lot of people didn’t know the wealth she had. If there was a coupon for two-for-one at Applebee’s, she was all about that,” said John Jacobs, her godson and estate representative. “She liked seeing students working, earning and doing things. Her goal was to provide an opportunity for those folks who could ill-afford it, whether vocational training or an academic skill.”
“Our GHC Foundation Board is really overwhelmed with this gift,” explained Lisa J. Smith, Executive Director of the College Foundation. “We will work closely with the College to identify programs to reduce barriers for students to go to college.
After graduating from high school, Eva Gordon went to work as a legal secretary and later for a Seattle investment firm. She married her husband, Ed Gordon, in 1964 and together they shared a common dedication to higher education.
Ed Gordon, who passed away in 2008, was able to go to college thanks to the encouragement and support of an aunt. After graduating from college, he became a Navy pilot and flew patrol bombers during World War II and the Korean War — an opportunity he credited to his college degree. After serving his country, Ed settled in Seattle where he met Eva. Ed worked as a stockbroker and together, they taught courses at the McNeil Corrections Center. Ed would deliver curriculum on business practices, while Eva led the group in warm-up exercises.
With jobs, family responsibilities and a median age of 26, Washington’s community and technical college students are often one-step away from having to quit college to pay the bills. The recipient college foundations will be able to help students pay for books, fees, supplies, technology needs, housing, transportation, food, childcare and unexpected financial emergencies that could otherwise stand in the way of their success. Each college foundation will work with its board and school administrators to decide how funds are allocated to maximize opportunities for students.
“Eva had a tremendous heart and liked to throw a rope to help people climb,” remembers John Jacobs.
The college foundations below are receiving donations from the Eva Gordon estate. During their lives, Eva and John Gordon often made generous contributions to South Seattle College as well.
Bates Technical College
Clover Park Technical College
Edmonds Community College
Everett Community College
Grays Harbor College
Green River Community College
Highline Community College
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
North Seattle College
Pierce College Foundation
Renton Technical College
Seattle Central College
Shoreline Community College
Skagit Valley College
South Puget Sound Community College
Tacoma Community College