Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jack Melchor and his wife Norma were passionate supporters of El Camino Hospital from the very beginning. Among the first to recognize the need for a local, community hospital and to put their considerable energies and talents behind it, they remained deeply involved for more than half a century. During their latter years, they chose to direct their philanthropic largesse to the hospital’s heart and vascular program and, after Norma died in February 2012, Jack and the family chose to honor her memory by committing several million dollars to support the Heart & Vascular Institute’s lifesaving work. In recognition of this extraordinary gift, the hospital rededicated the institute as the Norma Melchor Heart & Vascular Institute at a celebration reception attended by family, friends, hospital leaders and supporters on December 20, 2012. Jack Melchor passed away three years later.
Norma first became aware of El Camino Hospital in 1957 when she read about the newly forming Auxiliary in the local newspaper. A former surgical nurse, she was immediately interested in becoming involved and joined the fledgling group of volunteers. She helped to organize the reception and information desk and conducted tours of the new facility on the hospital’s opening day. A natural leader, she served as the Auxiliary’s chair of training in 1961, as vice president in 1962, and as president in 1963. Norma also co-chaired the Citizens Committee for the El Camino Hospital District, promoting the second bond issue for the hospital expansion. She was elected four times to the El Camino Hospital District Board of Directors, serving as president for one term, and she served as a board member of the El Camino Insurance Exchange and chair of the El Camino Hospital Budget and Development Committees.
Meanwhile, Jack Melchor recognized the hospital’s need for philanthropic support to advance its health care mission. Accordingly, in 1982, he founded the El Camino Hospital Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to fundraising on behalf of El Camino Hospital. He recruited an elite group of Silicon Valley high tech pioneers to join him in this endeavor and to match the $1 million in seed money he and Norma personally contributed. Jack became the Foundation’s first chair and served on its board for nine years, recruiting an influential group of directors, hiring professional staff, soliciting donations from prominent community members, and setting in place a fundraising strategy for the coming decade.
The couple turned their attention to heart and vascular care in 2005, when Norma became chair of the Foundation’s $25 million Imagine Campaign. They chose to allocate their gift to create an endowment for the newly formed Heart & Vascular Institute and later provided generous underwriting for the Advanced Endovascular Fellowship Program, a joint initiative of the Heart & Vascular Institute and Fogarty Institute for Innovation that provided post graduate, multi-disciplinary training to promising young cardiologists.
The Melchor family’s gift commitment that named the Norma Melchor Heart & Vascular Institute will provide ongoing support for clinical programs and research. Together with the family’s past donations it represents the largest cumulative gift to El Camino Hospital Foundation from any philanthropic source. A loving tribute to Norma, it epitomizes the Melchors’ enduring commitment to our community’s health and to its hospital.