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Dr. Terry Gordon to share spiritual journey

11/8/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Dr. Terry Gordon will speak on his spiritual awakening at E.J. Thomas Hall Nov. 13.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Terry Gordon
DOWNTOWN AKRON — For many years, Dr. Terry Gordon treated patients for physical ailments. Now the celebrated local physician is retired and turning his attention to those who need help with the spiritual side of life.

Gordon, 62, a Richfield resident, is the author of “No Storm Lasts Forever,” a book that chronicles how he has survived and even thrived in the wake of personal and family challenges. He will appear at The University of Akron’s (UA) E.J. Thomas Hall as part of its Forum Series Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

“It just feels so good,” Gordon said in a phone interview about the new chapter of his life. “I had a booksigning at Barnes and Noble [in Montrose] and there were 150 people there. It was very exciting. The next day at Barnes and Noble in Cleveland, four people were there. They were so apologetic, but I got so much out of those four people. I don’t care how many come; if I can touch one person, it’s worth it.”

Gordon is a Louisville, Ky., native who knew from childhood that he wanted to become a cardiologist after seeing a story on television about a boy who was helped through open-heart surgery.

“From that moment on, I knew what I was supposed to be,” he said.

After college at Emory University, he went to Kansas City for medical school and came to Northeast Ohio in 1980 for an internship in Massillon. A year later he was at Akron General Medical Center for internal medicine training, and then he completed an invasive cardiology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic.

As a cardiologist, Gordon spearheaded the effort a decade ago to get automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools after the death of Josh Miller, a Barberton High School football player.

He first focused on Summit County, and admits that at first not many people supported the idea.

“They said, ‘You’re crazy,’” he said. “I love it when people tell me that.”

The reaction just made him work harder, and eventually the Akron General Foundation put forth the funding to provide AEDs in all local schools.

“At first it was arduous,” he said. “When I got a door slammed in my face, I’d just go to another door. Once it got going, it was an easy sell because it’s the right thing to do.”

He was named the American Heart Association’s Physician of the Year in 2002 for his efforts. The state then got on board and provided grant funding for schools across Ohio to voluntarily join the program in 2005 and 2007.

A national effort to get AEDs in schools has been in the works, with the support of Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton (D-District 13), Gordon said.

While Miller is one young man whose short life changed Gordon’s life, he could probably say another young man also has put him on an unexpected path.

Gordon’s son, Tyler, was a 20-year-old college student when he was in a serious car accident that left him paralyzed in 2009. It’s that experience and how the doctor dealt with it that is chronicled in his book.

Gordon had met inspirational author Wayne Dyer a decade ago and become friends with him. When the accident happened, it was Dyer who suggested Gordon start putting his thoughts down on paper.

“I had never done that before,” Gordon said. “But I started journaling, and I shared it with a few people, and they said it was so powerful I should share it with others.

“It didn’t come from me, it came through me,” he said of the words. “It’s touched quite a few different kinds of people. It’s just about for anyone who is experiencing loss, whether it is of a loved one, a relationship, a job, a portfolio or a child. It’s how you deal with that agony and finding beauty right in the midst of the belly of the beast.”

He said he plans to share the story of his spiritual awakening with the Akron audience.

“Not that that’s important, but I want to convey that that can happen to each and every one of us,” he said. “It’s just a matter of where you place the focus. I will be sharing experiences I had that I could have written off as coincidence.”

Gordon also will have books available at the event for purchase and signing. A proceed of that night’s book sales will go to Stewart’s Caring Place in Fairlawn.

Tickets for Gordon’s engagement are $10 for the general public, $8 for UA faculty and staff and senior citizens and $6 for UA students. Tickets are available at the Thomas Hall Ticket Office, by calling 330-972-7570, at all TicketMaster locations or at ticketmaster.com. E.J. Thomas Hall is located at 198 Hill St. For more information, go to uaevents.com or www.drterry gordon.com.

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