Scholarship honors longtime health care advocate-hospital volunteer
Barbara and Alan McNeill of Beaumont have established the Marie E. Gordon Presidential Scholarship in Nursing at Lamar University to honor the memory of Barbara McNeill’s mother – a multi-talented woman whose dreams of becoming a nurse were interrupted by the Great Depression.
Instead, Gordon devoted more than 30 years to serving as a volunteer at Baptist Hospital, assisting and understanding the important work of the nurses employed there. Gordon also saw her daughter become a nurse, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University in 1963.
The McNeills established the scholarship in the Lamar University Foundation, which will award it annually to an undergraduate student in the JoAnne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing.
“The Marie E. Gordon Presidential Scholarship in Nursing will forever benefit students majoring in nursing at Lamar University,” said Eileen Deges Curl, chair of the nursing department. “This scholarship enables students to focus on studying nursing rather than having to split their time between school and work. We are honored to have such a scholarship provided by the McNeill family, especially because Mrs. McNeill is well respected for her career in nursing.”
Barbara McNeill said she had the opportunity to work with Lamar nursing students at Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth several years ago. “We are very impressed with the nursing department at Lamar, with the people who are running it and with the students coming out of Lamar,” she said. “We want to help further that effort. I think our community is going to need a lot more nurses. They’re going to take more responsibility in the future for medical care.”
“Mother had always wanted to be a nurse,” Barbara McNeill said. “She fulfilled part of that dream by volunteering at Baptist Hospital and got to know the nurses there and some of the students who worked there. She was always so helpful to them, and they just loved her.”
Marie Eddins Gordon was born in 1916 and moved to Beaumont from Kingsville after marrying John B. Gordon, whose uncle, W.D. Gordon was involved with the original Spindletop oil discovery of 1901. She became active in the Women’s Club and First Christian Church, where she remained a member until her death in 1998.
“It was Alan’s idea to create a scholarship in Mother’s name,” said Barbara. They had a special relationship, she said, restoring and producing pecans from the Gordon Pecan Orchard on Major Drive.
“Marie Gordon’s life was her family, her church, music and her concern and love for others,” said Alan, a local attorney. “She would be pleased by this honor of a gift to nursing, a career that serves others.”
For information about establishing an endowed scholarship, contact the Lamar University Foundation at (409) 880-2117.