We arrived back from our trip to California yesterday (a day early) in time to attend the funeral of what most people around here considered “Mr Palmer Home”. Gordan Via, originally a houseparent, a 30 year employee of Palmer Home for Children passed away this week and will surely be missed.
Mr. Gordan was one of the kindest and most giving people I have ever met and was also one of the most dedicated to serving the children of our home. A testament to his service is what he sacrificed for serving children.
Prior to coming to Palmer Home he worked in a paper mill in Virginia. It was a very good position and he made a pretty good living, but he gave it up to work long hours, for little recognition, a very little pay. (My understanding of the pay in 1975 at a children’s home was laughable) I was visiting with him this last summer about his vacation back to Virginia. He told me about playing golf with his old buddies and how they were all retired from the mill and could play golf whenever they wanted. How they all asked when he was going to retire and his reply was, “probably never”, because he couldn’t afford to.
After he moved into a support position, he continued as a pseudo houseparent and took several children that aged out into his home, you could say he adopted them. As the thriftstore manager, he often gave out of his own pocket to help those in need that couldn’t afford something at the store. And though sometimes his methods would make you scratch your head and wonder, he would do anything that was asked of him any time of the day or night. In the seven years that I knew him, there were several days I would see him on weekends and holidays doing things at the home that most of us would have left till Monday.
His philosophy for planning out his daily schedule was this: He would see something that needed to be done and do it. When he was done, he would look for the next thing that needed to be done, and would do it, etc. etc. Though many of us would prefer more planning and structure to our day, not many of us accomplished more.
Mr Gordan we will miss you and I only hope that should I last as long as you did I will be respected half as much are you are. And that my procession can be nearly as long.