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Louan Gideon

February 3, 2014

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Her one-woman play, “In the Mirror,” was nearly finished.

But Louan Gideon’s life ended before she had a chance to wrap up the script.

Gideon, an Ashevillian who had a long career as a television actress, with guest spots on “Seinfeld,” “Night Court” and popular soap operas, died of cancer Monday. She was 58.

“The cancer came in like a lion,” her husband Walt Borches said Tuesday. She beat breast cancer in 2009 and seemed healthy as recently as December, he said. But the cancer came back masked as other illnesses, and Gideon died after three days in the hospital.

Gideon was probably best known for her three-year role as Liza Walton Sentell on the long-running NBC soap opera “Search for Tomorrow.” She was the third actress to play the pivotal tragic character and remained on the serial until its 1986 cancellation. But her list of other TV and movie credits is long, including “Third Rock from the Sun,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Saved By the Bell: The New Class” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” She spent four seasons on the Nickelodeon series “The Secret World of Alex Mack.”

“It was great fun,” she told the Citizen-Times in a 2011 interview. But she gave up the limelight in L.A. to move to Asheville in 2005 and began a new career in writing and real estate.

After her breast cancer, Gideon began advocating for cancer-related causes and published a book, “That's a Wrap! 29 Easy and Elegant Head Wrapping Styles for the Tress-less Chemo Babe.” In it, she gives instructions to female cancer survivors on creating stylish headscarves. (“She wouldn’t wear a wig,” Borches said.)

She also brought celebrity pals to Asheville for cancer-related causes. In 2011, actress Marla Maples, a friend of Gideon’s and ex-wife of Donald Trump, came to a fundraiser for the former local nonprofit Beauty Through Cancer, which provided reconstructive tattooing and other cosmetic services to cancer survivors. Gideon was getting her breasts tattooed.

“Louan was a light,” said her friend and fellow Keller Williams real estate broker Nona Armour. “She was just a good person inside and out, and it showed.”

Borchers, an executive with, said Gideon performed in one stage play in Asheville, “A Side Order of Screwtape,” for a Montreat College crowd. She also worked in real estate here and there. But in recent years she had been dedicated to writing projects and caring for her mother Frances, who is nearly 90.

“This woman just radiated love,” said Keller Williams agent Ron Armstrong, who said Gideon believed in him long before he was a successful luxury agent. “You couldn’t be around her and not enjoy every moment.”

Borchers and Gideon were married on 11/11/11, and Borchers said the number 11 was a theme in their relationship. He found it more than coincidental that she died at 11:11p.m. Monday.

“As she was dying, she took her last breath on 11:11,” he said. A room full of friends, he said, had gathered around her and spent hours in a Mission Hospital room talking, weeping and sometimes laughing. “It was beautiful,” he said. “We knew it would be a sign. We were all like, oh my god — it was a perfect stage exit.”

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