Joan and Gordon Bergy’s Story:
The Gift of Vision
When diabetic retinopathy began to take a toll on Gordon Bergy’s sight, the UW faculty member’s role switched abruptly; the physician became the patient. And a teaching aid, too. His physician, James Kinyoun, M.D., brought trainees into the exam room to learn from Dr. Bergy’s case. He enjoyed it, remembers his wife, Joan Bergy. “Gordon had a great sense of the value of teaching.”
The Bergys’ connection with Dr. Kinyoun and with the UW Medicine eye clinic was important to the couple. And even though Gordon Bergy, M.D., Res.’49, passed away a few years ago, Joan retains a strong interest in the Department of Ophthalmology and the UW Medicine Eye Institute. Such a strong interest, in fact, that she has made significant investments in their work.
First, she created the Joan and Gordon Bergy, M.D., Lectureship in the Vision Sciences — an educational legacy Dr. Bergy would have been proud of. More recently, she decided to make a gift through her will to support ophthalmology.
“Well, it’s essential that you have a plan,” says the youthful-looking octogenarian. “I’d be nervous if I didn’t have a plan in place at my age! And what could be more important than the gift of vision?”
If the desire to have a plan prompted Joan to make a planned gift, so did inspiration. She remembers hearing the director of the eye institute, Russell Van Gelder, M.D., Ph.D., talk about the power of research. “He thinks that in 40 or 50 years, many types of eye disease will be eliminated,” she says.
“To be part of the group of people who makes this happen is a warm, wonderful, exciting feeling,” Joan says. “What we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we give to others lives on.”