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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Memorial service to be held for leukemia victim


For Anna Gordon, the spring of 2009 was supposed to be a time full of celebrations, good times with friends and plans for after graduation. Instead, the 22-year-old was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia just five weeks short of graduation.

Even though her whole life had just been turned upside down, Gordon graduated summa cum laude majoring in psychology and Spanish with a minor in Blount studies from the University. She was also awarded the Recognition for Academic Excellence by a Major in Psychology and the Outstanding Senior Award from the Undergraduate Initiative of the College of Arts and Sciences. After two years of fighting, Gordon died on May 9, 2011.

A memorial service in front of Denny Chimes will be held in her honor at 4 p.m. on Sept. 13. Along with the playing of the chimes, University President Robert Witt will speak on Anna’s behalf. The service will also include a segment from the University Singers. Anna’s mother, Pam, who has taught in the UA School of Music for 16 years, will also be in attendance.

“Anna was unique and very mature for her age as even a child; she was unique in how she dealt with her peers and adults as well,” Pam said. “She maintained that throughout her life. She could fit in with any age group. She was so motivated. I was cleaning out her closet the other day, and she saved every notebook from high school throughout college. She was so focused on school.”

In her time at the University, Pam said her daughter strove to achieve excellence, living in accordance to Paul “Bear” Bryant’s famous quote, “I ain’t never been nothin’ but a winner.”

“Every time she went to the hospital, that banner with the Paul Bear Bryant quote went with her,” Pam said. “She had it in her office, in her room and everywhere she went. It summed up her attitude on life, even when she got sick.”

After her diagnosis, she did not give up on her education, her mother said. Anna battled through chemotherapy so she could attend the University of Georgia in Athens to pursue a master’s degree. However, she relapsed and had to return to Alabama and undergo a bone morrow transplant in April 2010. After her transplant, Gordon went into remission and took a position at UA as an Admissions Counselor for Alumni and Volunteer Recruitment within the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

“It was never an option for Anna to just not do anything, even as sick as she was,” Pam said. “It mattered to her more than anything to just live. She loved living life everyday. I knew she was going to do something even after the bone morrow transplant.”

Pam said her daughter wasn’t out of the hospital a week before she was applying for jobs. She said that even though Anna couldn’t be in graduate school, she still wanted to be in that atmosphere.

In her time at the admissions office, Anna’s co-workers said she touched their lives irrevocably.

“Anna was an outstanding member of our admissions team,” said Mary Spiegel, executive director of enrollment services. “Many students have fond memories of her work with them. We miss her very much.”

After four short months, Anna relapsed again and had to go through yet another transplant in March 2011. The memorial will be one last chance for Anna’s story to get out, Pam said

“Anna was proud of being a model student,” her mother said. “She wasn’t born a genius, but her work ethic got her through everything, even leukemia. She never sat in the back and faded into the wall. She was able to have fun and be an excellent student.

“Denny Chimes is the heart of the campus, and to have it ring for Anna is the best way we can honor her,” she said.


Donations can be made to the Anna E. Gordon Memorial Endowed Scholarship by mail at P.O. Box 870122 Tuscaloosa, Ala. 35487.

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