Vidant dedicates portion of garden to beloved employee

Published 7:34 pm Friday, October 27, 2017

A corner of the Barbara Gray Howdy Meditation Garden will now forever be a way to remember the life of Susan Gerard.

Members of Vidant Beaufort Hospital and guests gathered at the garden outside of the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center to dedicate a corner to a former longtime employee of Vidant, Susan Gerard, in an emotional ceremony.

The ceremony included all of Gerard’s favorite things, including flowers, catering by her go-to restaurant, The Meeting Place, and homemade sourdough bread by friend Alma Friedman.

“I mean, this is her. It’s just so her,” said Alison Gerard Mattox, Gerard’s daughter. “To know that this will be a place for people fighting the same battle that she fought, and they can come here for rest and meditation.”

Gerard served at the hospital for years, and was instrumental in the vision of the Meditation Garden at the Cancer Center. The garden’s purpose is to provide a place of rest, relaxation and stress relief for those battling cancer. Gerard died in January of this year after losing an almost two-year battle with ovarian cancer.

“One word to describe her — she was a fighter. A humble, graceful fighter,” Mattox said.

Gerard loved to garden at her own home, according to Mattox, and her family worked to build a white swing in the meditation garden, making an exact replica of the one that was in her garden.

Pam Shadle, director of marketing and community outreach and development, said Gerard was a strong advocate for local health care and was a leader in the hospital for many years. She had background in home health care, and later she became the senior director of growth of clinical services at Vidant Beaufort Hospital. Shadle said her job wasn’t an easy job to do, but she always got the job done with grace.

“Everybody loved her. When you’re in a leadership role, it’s a tough place to be sometimes, but everybody loved her. She made decisions with other people in mind,” Shadle said.