The Dr. Gordy Klatt Recognition Project took a giant leap forward on Feb. 18 when Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park and Crematory presented the project committee with a check for $20,000. These funds will go toward the construction and installation of a permanent memorial in honor of Klatt to be installed at Baker Stadium on the University of Puget Sound campus. This location is significant in that it was on the stadium’s running track where Klatt singlehandedly started the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life 30 years ago. Today, this fundraising event for cancer research has surpassed the $5 billion mark and is firmly established as a worldwide movement to end cancer.
To formally present the check, a gathering of project committee members, managers from Mountain View and Relay for Life supporters gathered at Water Concepts on South Tacoma Way for a meet-and-greet with Klatt and Beth Ravitz, the artist tasked with creating the memorial.
“He is a local hero who has touched the world over,” said Clarke Thomson, general manager of Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park and Crematory. During the check presentation, Thomson praised Klatt for his passionate vision. “Cancer is something that has impacted all of our lives in one form or another. I look back at the years that I’ve been a part of Relay for Life and not knowing that one day I’d be standing in the same room with the very person that kicked it off for the entire world. It is a great honor for me and the entire staff of Mountain View to publicly thank you for your work.”
In 2012, Klatt was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach. As a survivor, he continues to push forward in working for a cure for cancer. He addressed this at the Feb. 18 event. “Even though we are making some progress, we’re seeing more cancer cases because there are more people in that age group now. It touches all of us.
“It’s a real struggle, but we are making progress. It’s just a matter of time.”
Klatt thanked those who are helping to make the memorial possible. “I really thank the community and UPS for their involvement to do this for me and for the American Cancer Society.”
Committee member Tony Anderson agreed. “UPS has been fabulous to work with. We can’t commend them enough for their cooperation.”
Longtime Relay for Life supporter and UPS alumnus Harvey Rosen is one of the key movers behind the memorial, as it was his brainstorm to permanently recognize and celebrate Klatt’s personal contribution to the fight against cancer and the inspiring achievement of this one individual. The idea for a permanent marker on the UPS campus came to him before Klatt was diagnosed, making the Dr. Gordy Klatt Recognition Project all the more important now.
“They honor people after they’re gone and that’s always bothered me,” Rosen said. “This piece of art will be the cornerstone to the new entrance and walkway (at Baker Stadium). It’s really exciting. We’ve had a lot of great community support across the board.”
“Harvey is pretty humble, but he deserves a lot of credit for leading our committee,” Anderson said. “He really thought about this three or four years ago, then when Dr. Klatt contracted cancer, it was time to not wait any longer. We wanted to recognize him before the chance came that he may be no longer with us.”
Anderson is a great admirer of Klatt. “The great thing about this project is we’re helping recognize a person who has made a difference because of what his vision turned out to be in the lives of who knows how many millions of people.”
Anderson’s mom is one of those people. “My mother is a cancer survivor and Dr. Klatt operated on her two years ago and saved her life. She wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him.” He said Klatt would visit her regularly while she recuperated. “That’s how devoted he is to his patients, and Relay for Life and cancer research.”
Artist Beth Ravitz was obliged to stay mum about details of what she’s creating to honor Klatt, as the three different examples she is proposing were due the next day to be presented to the university’s Campus Art Advisory Council. “They are going to be the first to see them,” Rosen said. The council will spend about a month reviewing the three before the selection process moves on to the next step.
“We hope to have it dedicated in the fall,” Rosen said, and the public will be invited to the dedication event.
Ravitz said of her work that she’s not partial to one over the others. “They’re really like my children – I love them all but I love them all differently. I don’t like any one better than the other. I’ll be happy with whichever one is selected because they’re all really strong.”
Rosen said project fundraising is at about 75 percent of the goal thanks to the project’s 130 donors that range from businesses and foundations to private individuals. “So far we’ve raised approximately $100,000.” Those who wish to contribute can call (253) 677-566 or send a check or money order made out to American Cancer Society, PO Box 11185, Tacoma, WA 98411 (indicate that the funds are for the Dr. Gordy Klatt Recognition Project).