Gretchen Bowker's story is one of passion inspired by a loving husband, a hospital that cares, and doctors who treat the patient, not just the disease. Her late husband, Gordon "Gordy" Bowker, was the life of the party. Clients of Gretchen's company, The Chester County Travel Agency, loved traveling with Gordy and Gretchen, as much as they loved visiting exotic locations.
Together, they took more than 100 cruises and, sadly, it was on a European cruise in 2006 that Gordy became ill. He had been under the expert care of David Grossman, MD, since his cancer diagnosis in 2000. Gordy's treatment at The Abramson Cancer Center at Chester County extended his life, but was not able to prevent the cancer from spreading. Gretchen lost Gordy a little more than a week after returning home from that European cruise.
The following year, Gretchen celebrated Gordy's life with friends and family on a memorial cruise. Not one to sit back and relax - even on a cruise, Gretchen wanted to do more. She was determined to help others in their battle with cancer and give back to the caring staff and doctors who "were wonderful, especially Dr. Grossman. He treated my family, my husband and me with care and compassion." Gretchen decided a golf tournament would be a natural fit, since Gordy was an avid golfer since age 18. Friends and family worked together and the Gordon 'Gordy' Bowker Memorial Golf Tournament was started. In the three years since its inception, the June tournament has raised more than $58,000. Gretchen specifies the money be used to enhance patient care. Today, there are new ergonomic recliners for chemotherapy treatments and a big screen television that acts as a welcome distraction. Outside The Cancer Center, there is a tranquil garden.
Care for cancer patients is also supported by the long-running fundraising event, SHINE. Even though she may be exhausted after months of planning Gordy's golf outing, Gretchen actively participates on the SHINE committee. In support of her fellow committee members, she helps organize an amazing November evening of dinner and dancing at the Winterthur Estate to support important initiatives for cancer patient care like prescription and transportation assistance and the Cancer Care Coordinator positions.
Since it was kindness and expert care that made such a difference in Gordy's life, Gretchen and her friends are happy to do what they can to make the lives of other patients a little better.
So each year, after a great day of golf, Gretchen stands at the podium in the ballroom of the Coatesville Country Club and thanks friends for their hard work and generosity. And, while she insists that they are Gordy's greatest legacy, they in turn would argue that his legacy is Gretchen herself - her indomitable spirit, her drive, her energy and compassion to support others in their personal battles with cancer. Inspired by Gordy, Gretchen is making a difference.