Smyth County Community Hospital | News Article

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Francis Marion Manor resident, 94 and a WWII veteran, honored by Smyth County

Left to right: Marion Mayor David Helms; Gordon Widener, Francis Marion Manor resident; Turk Johnson, VFW; and Ron Thomason, Smyth County Director of Tourism.MARION, Va. – A resident at Francis Marion Manor Health & Rehabilitation, Gordon Widener, was recently honored by the mayor of Marion and other local officials with a Smyth County Tourism Association Most Beautiful People award.

Widener, 94, is a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Army as an ammunition supply clerk under the legendary Gen. George Patton.

Marion Mayor David Helms, a friend of Widener’s, came to the Manor along with Ron Thomason, Smyth County director of tourism, and Turk Johnson from the VFW, and Thomason presented him the award. The Most Beautiful People honor recognizes volunteerism, membership in a service organization and how someone has touched the lives of others. It also honors keepers of Smyth County history and traditions.

“Gordon is such an inspiration!” said Sharon Buchanan, activity coordinator at Francis Marion Manor. “He is so proud of his country and to be a citizen of the United States of America! When he speaks to the schools and the schools groups that visit here at Francis Marion Manor, he loves to teach young people about the symbols of our great country and why we need to honor them. He has many times stated that if people knew what it was like to fight for our country, they would understand what those symbols truly mean.

“He has also said, ‘I try to make a difference.’ Believe me, he does make a difference!”

Widener was also presented with a poster for a Memorial Day concert by the group Letters from Home, autographed by the two women who make up the singing duo. The show was held at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion. Widener himself is a singer, having sung at numerous local events including the Relay For Life, the Rich Valley Fair Horse Show, for Veterans Day programs at local schools and at the VFW, at the annual Spirit of '45 event honoring WWII veterans, and at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Lincoln Theatre.

“He loves to sing and not only sings patriotic songs but other songs, as well, and is happy to sing whenever asked,” said Buchanan, who has been a friend of Gordon’s for years and has a grandson who has become close to him.

Francis Marion Manor is a nursing care facility that is part of Smyth County Community Hospital.