Published on February 04, 2022

Future Cancer Center Named, Local Foundations Collaborate and Commit Funding

Elsa and Jim Pardee

In recognition of the dedication to cancer research and treatment by the late James T. and Elsa U. Pardee, the future Cancer Center at MyMichigan Medical Center Midland will be named in their honor. The naming is made possible by combined gifts by both the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation and Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation. Groundbreaking for the James T. and Elsa U. Pardee Cancer Center (Pardee Cancer Center) is scheduled for spring 2022. The $61.5 million, 115,000 square-foot project is expected to take two years to complete.

“Supporting the naming of the Cancer Center was deeply important to both of our Foundations. Never have either of our organizations funded a bricks and mortar project so important and consistent with the aims of our Foundations,” said Gail E. Lanphear, president of the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation and board chair of the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation.

Lanphear explained the Foundation’s unique collaboration on the donation. “The Elsa U. Pardee Foundation and Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation have had a special connection for many, many years. The Elsa U. Pardee Foundation was established in 1944 under the terms of the will of its namesake, Elsa, whose life was taken by breast cancer at the age of 59. The Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation was established by Eda Gerstacker, the wife of Rollin Gerstacker, with the help of a sizeable donation from the estates of Eda’s twin sister, Elsa, and brother-in-law James T. Pardee.”

In the establishment of the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation, Elsa provided a $1 million trust fund (equivalent to $15 million today) ”for the promotion of the control and cure of cancer.“ Since being founded 77 years ago, The Elsa U. Pardee Foundation’s dedicated volunteer foundation trustees comprised of family members, community members, and medical experts, have grown the Pardee Foundation’s financial resources and funded more than $156 million around the world in all areas of important cancer research and documentation. Locally, more than $6.2 million has been dedicated to MyMichigan Health’s cancer program.

“Thousands had been helped by the support of the Pardee Foundation,” said Lanphear, great niece of Elsa Pardee. “In fact, in 1951, a Pardee Treatment Committee was set up at Midland Hospital (now MyMichigan Medical Center Midland) to provide financial assistance to patients facing the difficult financial burden of cancer care through The Pardee Cancer Treatment Fund. Over the decades, six treatment committees were set up to serve Bay, Clare, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland/Gladwin Counties in Michigan, as well as Brazosport County in Texas, and the Foundation spends about 33 percent of its resources on this special community funding. The impact has been incredible.”

She continued, “With Elsa and James’s devotion to cancer research and treatment, along with the support the couple gave to the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, our two Foundations joining together for this cancer center project was truly a perfect fit. To name MyMichigan’s new, state-of-the-art facility after James and Elsa is a beautiful tribute to a couple who was devoted to cancer research and ensuring the immediate financial needs of cancer patients would be met. We believe both James and Elsa would be proud and most pleased with the progress of the fight against cancer.”

In addition to the support by the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation and Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, MyMichigan’s Pardee Cancer Center has also received funding by The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, Dow Company Foundation, and Midland Area Community Foundation.

“We all know someone who has been touched by cancer and our vision is to ensure the care those impacted receive is as seamless as possible. With the support of our local foundations, the future Pardee Cancer Center will be able to do just that by bringing all the necessary care for patients under one roof,” said Diane Postler-Slattery, Ph.D., FACHE, president and CEO, MyMichigan Health. “The new Center will give us the space for multiple specialists to see the patient on the same day, collaborate and provide the patient a plan of care without multiple appointments at multiple locations.”

Reflective of MyMichigan Health’s Purpose Statement in “Creating Healthy Communities – Together,” Postler-Slattery shared that the Pardee Cancer Center will also be the new home for Cancer Services and The Pardee Cancer Treatment Fund. “Patients will benefit from these organizations housed in the new facility with ease of access to their services. More importantly, as our guests, Cancer Services and The Pardee Cancer Treatment Fund will no longer need to worry about the financial obligation of a building mortgage or rent, allowing them to put these dollars towards much needed services for patients.”

The Center, to be positioned adjacent to the Medical Center, will be located at the site of the existing Towsley Building. The structure and footprint of the Towsley Building will remain; however, the interior will be rebuilt to meet the needs of the Pardee Cancer Center.

MyMichigan Health offers comprehensive cancer care focused on breast, lung, esophageal, colon, genitourinary and gynecologic cancers. The health system’s program includes access to a team of 23 providers specializing in cancer care, certified oncology nurses, radiation therapists, the latest in diagnostic and treatment technology, clinical trials, and a full range of support services.

MyMichigan’s cancer program also includes assistance for patients and their families through social workers, care navigators, genetic counselors, nutritionists, physical therapists, mental health professionals, financial counseling, and connections to support groups or other individuals facing similar circumstances.

The cancer program at MyMichigan is accredited with commendation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, is a recipient of the Accreditation for Program Excellence (APEx) from the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology, and its Breast Health Program at MyMichigan’s Center for Women's Health is accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a program administered by the American College of Surgeons and certified by the Quality Breast Center of Excellence by the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers.

The MyMichigan Health Foundation will be raising funds to support the building project for the James T. and Elsa U. Pardee Cancer Center. Donations will be accepted online at www.mymichigan.org/cancercenter or by calling (989) 839-1932. Those interested in more information on MyMichigan’s comprehensive cancer program may visit www.mymichigan.org/cancer.

About Elsa U. Pardee
Elsa Uhinck, was born in Parma, Ohio, on Nov. 7, 1884. Elsa, and her twin sister Eda, attended Cleveland Normal School to become teachers, and Elsa taught for several years before marrying James Pardee. Together, she and James built the famous Alden B. Dow-designed Pardee House in 1936-37 at the corner of Revere and Main Streets. Elsa was a major supporter of the Red Cross during World War I and the Women’s Committee of the Council on National Defense, a home front group of women formed to bring together their skills to help in the World War I war effort. She and James were major purchasers of Liberty Loan bonds to support the war. Elsa was a member of the Monday Club, St. John’s Episcopal, and helped encourage voting in 1920 through the Americanization Society, a group focused on getting everyone age 21 and older to vote in what was the first election where women had universal suffrage. Elsa died on October 2, 1944.

About James T. Pardee
James Thomas Pardee was born in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 18, 1867. He attended Case School of Applied Science and graduated in the same class as Herbert H. Dow in 1888. Pardee became a civil engineer and worked for the City of Cleveland designing some of their most important bridges. James Pardee was a co-founder one of Dow’s early companies and later, in 1897, The Dow Chemical Company where he served as the Vice President, Secretary, and then Chairman of the Board. He became the second largest stockholder at Dow Chemical after Herbert H. Dow. When Pardee was awarded an honorary degree from Case School of Applied Science in 1940, university president, Keith Glennan, quoted one of his colleagues saying, “Dr. Pardee didn’t climb the ladder of success at Dow Chemical Company, ‘he helped to build the ladder.’” Pardee was important to the success and growth of the company and the community. He was a co-founder of Chemical State Savings Bank in 1916 and a co-founder of the Midland Community Center in 1917. He was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Rotary International, and the Midland Country Club. James died on January 3, 1944.