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Ellsworth C. Alvord Jr.

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Ellsworth C. ALVORD, Jr. Dr. Ellsworth C. "Buster" Alvord, Jr., retired head of the Department of Neuropathology at the University of Washington and noted civic philanthropist, died on January 19, 2010, at his Seattle home following a stroke. Born May 9, 1923, in Washington, D.C., the son of Ellsworth C., Sr., and Katharyn Alvord, Buster Alvord received his bachelor's degree from Haverford College, in Pennsylvania, in 1943, and his medical degree from Cornell University in 1946. Following graduation, he continued his training in neurological disorders at New York Hospital, Walter Reed Hospital, and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. From 1953 to 1955 he served as Chief of the Neuropathology Section of the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Blindness, and in 1955 accepted an appointment as associate professor of pathology and neurology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. In 1960 he began a distinguished career at the University of Washington, where he served for almost 50 years as professor of pathology and pioneer in the field of neuropathology. He was widely recognized for his research into the causes of allergic encephalomyelitis and multiple sclerosis. He served on the board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and in 2005 was the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award; the American Association of Neuropathologists; and the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute. Following retirement from the University faculty he continued to work, focusing on developing mathematical models for brain cancer, until his death. The Alvords endowed chairs in neuropathology and related sciences which constitute the Nancy and Buster Alvord Brain Tumor Center at the UW. They contributed to two endowed chairs in the Department of Pathology in recognition of Dr. Alvord and his colleague, Dr. Cheng-Mei Shaw. They were honored as recipients of several University of Washington Awards: the Dean's Circle Award in 2004, the Gates Volunteer Service Award in 2006, and the Brotman Leadership 2008 Award. They established the Harborview Mission of Caring Endowed Fund for Uncompensated Care in 2003. In addition, they endowed a chair in pediatric epilepsy at Children's Hospital. Buster Alvord's dedication to the University of Washington went far beyond the Medical School. A UW fellowship in humanities was endowed by Buster Alvord and his wife, Nancy. He was a member of the UW Libraries and History Department visiting committees, a supporter of KUOW, a fundraiser for the Solomon Katz Professorship in the Humanities, a member of the Henry Art Gallery board of trustees and president of the UW World Series advisory board for Meany Hall. He served as a member of the board of trustees of the University of Puget Sound, where he was also chair of its Music, Art, and Drama board. He was also a member of the honorary board of directors of the Medic One Foundation. "Keep a third, give a third to Uncle Sam, and give a third away" is the formula that guided Buster Alvord's philanthropy. Over the years the Alvord name has been associated with generous support for all of Seattle's major cultural institutions, support that didn't stop with financial aid but included service on boards of directors and dedicated attendance at performances. He was a trustee of both the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) for over 40 years, and served terms as president of both boards. The generosity of the Alvords touched organizations including The Seattle Repertory Theater, the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Children's Theatre, Artist Trust (founding donors), St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, the Seattle Public Library, The Nature Conservancy, People for Puget Sound, the Trust for Public Land, and the Audubon Society, to name a few beneficiaries of their generosity. Buster and Nancy Alvord were recipients of the 1991 Seattle-King County First Citizens award, the Corporate Council for the Arts (now ArtsFund) Lifetime Dedication to the Arts Award in 1999, and the PONCHO Founders Award in 2008. Three generations of the Alvord family were recognized in 1995 as the Outstanding Philanthropic Family of the Year by the Washington State Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. Buster Alvord is survived by his wife of 66 years, Nancy Delaney Alvord, whom he met at a family summer vacation spot while both were still in high school. Other survivors include a brother and sister-in-law, Robert W. Alvord and his wife, Jacquelyn, of Washington, D.C.; a son and daughter-in-law, Ellsworth C. "Chap" Alvord III and his wife, Eve; a daughter, Katharyn Alvord Gerlich; a daughter, Jean Alvord Rhodes; and a son and daughter-in-law, Richard Alvord and his wife, Nancy, all of Seattle. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Elias C. Alvord II and his wife, Karyl; Ira A. Gerlich; Delaney A. Gerlich; Carrie Delaney Rhodes; James S. Rhodes III and his wife, Kalpana; George E. Rhodes; Alexander W. Alvord; Virginia J. Alvord; and Annie O. Alvord; and nine great-grandchildren. A memorial celebration has been set for Thursday, March 4, at 2:00 p.m. at Meany Hall on the University of Washington campus. Remembrances in lieu of flowers may be directed to Harborview Mission of Caring Fund, ArtsFund, or a charity of your choice. "Just give it to somebody," Buster would say.
Published in The Seattle Times from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, 2010
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