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Longtime ODU Supporter Joan D. Gifford Dies

Former Old Dominion University Board of Visitors member Joan D. Gifford died Thursday, Oct. 16, after a long battle with cancer.

A long-time supporter of the university, Gifford received an honorary doctorate of humane letters for her contributions to Old Dominion during a special ceremony last November. She was owner and chairman of the board of Gifford Management Group.

"There has been no greater advocate for Old Dominion University than Joan Gifford," said Acting President John R. Broderick. "The university community is saddened by this loss and our condolences go out to her family."

A native of Devonshire, England, Gifford was appointed to the ODU Board of Visitors in 1995. She served as vice rector during the 1997-98 academic year, and served on the Institutional Advancement Committee and as vice chair of the Administration and Finance Committee. In 2001, she received the Albert B. "Buck" Gornto Jr. Regional Service Award from Old Dominion.

Additionally, she most recently served as a member of ODU's Economics Club of Hampton Roads and the university's Real Estate Foundation.

Active in the Tidewater Association of Realtors since 1953, Gifford was the first woman to receive the Realtor of the Year Award for the commonwealth of Virginia. She served locally on numerous boards and committees, including as president of the Norfolk/Chesapeake Board of Realtors and member of the Realtors Political Action Committee. She was instrumental in forming the Navy Housing Task Force, an organization that is a liaison between the U.S. Navy and the Realtor community.

Gifford also served as president of the Women's Council of Realtors for both local and state associations, and was elected for three terms as a director of the National Association of Realtors. She was honored as the Professional Woman of the Year for Hampton Roads in 1984.

Gifford also served on the Norfolk State University Foundation board and on the advisory boards of Lee's Friends, ForKids and Heritage Bank.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

This article was posted on: October 17, 2008

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