History of Gordon Elwood

Gordon Elwood, a lifelong native of the Rogue Valley, did not fit the profile of a philanthropist. Rather, he was a quirky and hard workingman who deprived himself and his family of most of life’s comforts. Although he loved cars and talked shop with car salesmen he rarely drove his old Mercedes because he didn’t like to buy gasoline. Instead of bedding, he and his family slept in sleeping bags, wearing stocking caps to stay warm in his unheated house that had no telephone because it was too expensive. Curiously, it is his own deprivation that allowed him to help others in need.

When Gordon was thirteen he had his first job delivering papers on a 13-mile route. As soon as he began to make money he was expected to be responsible, productive, and frugal.

Gordon built his fortune with his hands, his intelligence, and his economy. During the Second World War, Gordon’s father taught him how to repair clocks and radios. As televisions grew in popularity, Gordon figured out how to repair them and for the next 40 years worked as a television repairman. He was proud that he could fix “almost anything”. After he retired Gordon made money by savaging for cans and bottles to collect the deposit.

In December 1999, Gordon Elwood left behind a trust fund to care for his family, and approximately $9 million dollars for the benefit of his beloved southern Oregon community. His generosity to those who will never be able to thank him is the impressive legacy of an eccentric man who lived in the margins.

"Everyone is put on this earth to accomplish something, and not just for their own self. Through this foundation I feel I have made my life worthwhile to others."

Gordon Elwood

By the close of 1999, John Harmon, John Duke, Daniel Kosmatka, Jan Murphy, Stephanie Johnson, Burke Raymond and Mike Heverly had been appointed to create his legacy.

The Gordon Elwood Foundation is committed to fulfilling Gordon's legacy by offering a hand up to those in need. We are pleased to honor his memory in service to the southern Oregon community.