Greensboro Woman Gives $1 Million to Duke Eye Center
DURHAM, N.C. - - Evelyn Hunter Longdon of Greensboro, N.C.,
has given $1 million to the Duke Eye Center for its proposed
eye research institute, Duke University President Nannerl O.
Keohane announced Monday.
Longdon's gift is in memory of her husband, Stanley Longdon,
who died in 1996. Stanley Longdon lost his sight due to
age-related macular degeneration. He was seen at the Eye Center
in the 1980s, but his disease had already progressed beyond the
"I wanted to do something that Stan would have wanted,"
Evelyn Longon said. "I hope this gift will help other people
with macular degeneration keep their eyesight."
Longdon, a native of Wallace, N.C., is a retired nurse
anesthetist. She received her nursing education at Highsmith
Rainey Hospital in Fayetteville, N.C., and her nurse
anesthetist certification at Duke Hospital. She worked for many
years at Wesley Long Hospital in Greensboro.
Longdon's gift came as a surprise to the Eye Center staff,
who first met her this summer when she toured the Eye Center.
At the end of that visit, she announced her plans to make a $1
"This extraordinary gift comes at a time of unprecedented
opportunity in eye research," said Dr. Ralph Snyderman,
chancellor for health affairs and president and CEO of Duke
University Health System. "The field of genomics has opened new
pathways to understanding, preventing and curing many different
diseases, including blinding eye diseases."
Dr. David Epstein, chair of ophthalmology and director of
the Duke Eye Center, said,
"We are so very grateful for Mrs. Longdon's generosity and
confidence in the quality of Duke's eye researchers. Her gift
puts us one step closer to this new facility, which is critical
to acquiring the people and infrastructure that will lead to
The Eye Center seeks $17.5 million in funds to construct a
five-story building and an additional $7.5 million for a
The proposed Duke Eye Research Institute will be built
behind the current Wadsworth Building, which opened in 1973. An
expansion was completed in 1990. According to Epstein, the
current facility is at full capacity and additional space is
required to bring new senior-level scientists who can advance
the research program to world-class status. The Eye Center is
already ranked among the top 10 institutions in the United
States, according to U.S. News and World Report and
the Ophthalmology Times.
"We are known at the national level for our research on
treating specific diseases," said Epstein. "Our goal is to be
second to none in research."