Services for Rachel D. Gordon of Williamsville, a registered nurse who was one of the first home health care volunteers for Hospice Buffalo, were held Sunday in Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware Ave. Burial was in Forest Lawn.
She died March 2 in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a long illness. She was 79.
Born in Calcutta, India, to parents of English descent, the former Rachel David graduated in 1943 from Loreto House School in Calcutta, where the faculty included Mother Teresa. She then worked for the U.S. Army Air Forces for 2 1/2 years as a secretary.
Although her parents offered to send her to England to study nursing, she decided to come to America, choosing the Buffalo General Hospital School of Nursing from a list of 20 schools to which she sent applications.
Here on a student visa, she went on to be the first in her 1949 graduating class, and was allowed to stay in the United States after then-Rep. Anthony F. Tauriello introduced a private bill in Congress in order keep her from being deported to India. She took graduate studies at the University of Buffalo.
Mrs. Gordon was a student nurse at Children's Hospital and a registered nurse at Buffalo General Hospital for many years, becoming a head nurse. Later she was one of the first home health care volunteers for Hospice Buffalo, which gave her its Longtime Volunteer Award in 1993.
"Beginning in 1978, Rachel devoted her time, talents and love to the care of the sick and dying," said William E. Finn, president and chief executive of the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care. "Rachel would make visits in the middle of the night, sit vigil with patients and families, and even invite patients to her own home for therapeutic swims in her pool. [She] was one of the best examples of selfless giving I have ever come to know."
Mrs. Gordon received the Outstanding Community Service Award from the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County in 1983 and the Rabbi Daniel E. Kerman Award from Temple Beth Am in 1986.
She was a member of Temple Beth Zion and its Sisterhood. She also was a member of Hadassah.
She enjoyed tennis, bridge, cribbage and backgammon.
Surviving are her husband of 55 years, William S.; two daughters, Linda H. of Los Angeles and Diane L. of East Amherst; a son, David M. of Williamsville; a sister, Sylvia Weisenfeld of New York City; two brothers, Haskell David of Bangalore, India, and Alan David of Redondo Beach, Calif.; and three grandchildren.