Dr. Gary Donald Gordon, after a full life of devotion to God, died on Sunday evening, October 29, 2017, at age 89, and was carried peacefully to his eternal home to be with his Lord and Savior. His life was one of service and gratitude to God, demonstrated by his love and commitment to his family, the church, and the community at home and abroad.
Born in Elkins, West Virginia on May 28, 1928, Gary was the eldest son of the late medical missionaries, Dr. Donald C. Gordon and his wife, Helen Gary, who founded a hospital in Rio Verde, Goiaz, Brazil. Gary, along with his brother and two sisters, spent his childhood years in the shadow of the hospital where his father ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of countless others. Gary returned to the U.S., attended Loomis Prep School and Wesleyan University and received his PhD in physics from Harvard University in 1954. During that time, he met his future wife, Doris Nichols, in the young adult group meetings at the Old South Church in Boston. He began working as an assistant professor at Harvard, but was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly thereafter, serving for two years at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Gary and Doris were married in 1956, at the Old South Church. They lived in Washington, D.C., then New Jersey and finally settled in Washington Grove, Maryland, raising four sons and one daughter. For 46 years, they provided a “home away from home” for their children and more than a few nieces, nephews and others they took under their wing. They retired to Asbury Methodist Home and continued to be a blessing to all those they came to know.
With a brilliant mind and the Christian example of his father’s service to others, Gary dedicated his life’s work to using his expertise in aerospace physics to further develop spacecraft technology and benefit even those in the Third World. He worked for several years at RCA where he contributed to the thermal design of the first weather satellite, TIROS. He then worked for Comsat Laboratories in Clarksburg, MD for 14 years as Senior Staff Scientist in the Spacecraft Laboratory and 9 years as an Aerospace Consultant for Intelsat. He was instrumental in the design of the first active communications satellite, RELAY. He taught manager-level courses on semiconductor devices, modern physics, computers, and satellites and coauthored two books: Communications Satellite Handbook and the textbook Principles of Communications Satellites. He has written technical papers on electric propulsion, geodetic use of satellites, spacecraft thermal design, a proposed 30-kw solar array, and the effect of the moon’s shadow on geostationary satellites. He was continually sought after by his colleagues for technical advice. He generously shared his knowledge, patiently offering well-thought out explanations for highly technical concepts. He understood the complexities of satellite orbits and their effect on powering satellites efficiently through time and space.
Gary was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, mentor and friend. Deeply loved and respected by his children, he was an example of humility and patience, always willing to offer helpful advice. He generously gave of his resources and helped others without complaint or seeking credit. He consistently laid aside his work on Sundays and enjoyed time with the family, taking them on well-planned hikes and canoe trips, while setting an example of stewardship by leaving the place cleaner than when he found it.
Gary joins his late brother, Alan Gary Gordon, and is survived by his two sisters, Hope Gordon Silva and Alma Gordon Dole, and his wife, Doris, of 61 years of faithful marriage, and their family: son Donald Gordon and wife Marianne with grandchildren Prudence, Patience, Peter, and PattyAnne, son Peter “Dubside” Gordon, son Alan Gordon and wife Faby, son Norman Gordon and wife Elsie with grandchildren Alicia, Abigail, and Andrea Joyce, and daughter Carol Sue Loopstra and husband Jonathan.
Gary will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
The memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm on Friday, November 10, 2017 at Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church (610 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg, Maryland).
Mary Lou Madsen | Oct 30, 2017 4:00pm
Keeping Gary and the whole family in our prayers every day Russ and Mary Lou
David Wolfe | Oct 30, 2017 8:53am
May God grant all of you peace and comfort as you remember Gary and his Godly and righteous life. Having lived in Brazil ourselves, it was great hearing about your reunions there and what a wonderful family man he was. God bless you all. David Wolfe & family, Elder, Idylwood Presbyterian Church, Falls Church, Virginia
Sandra Dodson | Oct 30, 2017 7:44am
U.Gary and A.Doris made a space for family to be together. Like Jesus fed the 5000, they provided food, and they provided a place to stay for us to gather: Their home, The Poconos, Cacapon, Fenwick Island, Westmoreland to name a few. There was that memorable summer when they made room for 10 or 11 of us cousins—all college-age—to live at 400 Center Street and find jobs in the area. Crazy! They provided keys, cars, directions (!U.Gary WAS Googlemaps before they invented the app.), advice, a listening ear, a steady hand, loans, and ALL the cereal one could eat, not just corn flakes either, but the GOOD ones like shredded wheat, almond crunch and granola! There were chore charts: Alan hated washing dishes after any meal I cooked because I invariably burned something in a pan—a combination of being unaccustomed to an electric range and my unique cooking style with my propensity for multi-tasking (well while thats simmering I’ll just organize this cabinet) invariably meant I left something on the stove too long. And there was music....ohhhhhh the music! A. Doris on the piano, Carol Sue on the flute, recorders and harmonica, guitars, and while Marcelo was there, I believe, drums. There were puzzles and games. And late night discussions with snacks that got “better” at least according to the ALAN Gordons once we figured out that all one had to do was put the item on The List, from which A.Doris shopped. So we started adding things like: sugar (5lb please A.Doris, not the 1lb bag you brought home last week) marshmallows, Karo and chocolate powder (to make fudge), cinnamon rolls....you get the picture. And not just short-term either. My year after college they invited me to stay and work while I applied to medical school. They never required payment. In fact U.Gary would cheerfully fill the car with gas, which I had used all week. And take us out to eat on Sundays, footing the bill. Not once, not ONCE, did he say: Don’t order drinks because it is too expensive here (which sadly, I tell my children all too often). Only three things I remember them requiring, things that would visibly upset them if not done: fill the car’s gas tank if it went below the half mark, bring the letters STRAIGHT HOME, if picking them up from the post office, and let them know in the morning if you were going to be there for supper. A.Doris liked to keep her numbers straight when she was cooking. Good and faithful servant, who, like Jesus, “andava fazendo bem.” (Walked about doing good)
eudoxio santos | Oct 29, 2017 2:05pm
Saiba que Deus está a seu lado "tio" Gary. "na doença Tú lhes afofas a cama"Salmos 41:3 Doris, estamos orando e pensando em você. Um grande abraço a todos os familiares. Perseveremos em oração para melhoras do Gary. Rio Verde, Goiás, Brazil are praying for Gary. God be with the family, bringing hope and comfort. Doris, may God strength you. Love, Eudoxio & Lucia
Eva Walters | Oct 28, 2017 12:57pm
Dear Uncle Gary and Aunt Doris, My mom (Susan) told me about what's happening. I'm praying that God will give you joy and comfort in everything that happens. I remember always loving our visits to you, and I've always loved hearing stories about you in our family history. You are truly amazing. Love, Eva
Sonia Dettweiler | Oct 23, 2017 11:30am
Dear Uncle Gary - We are praying for you. May the LORD who has guided and sustained you through your life journey continue to give you strength. We remember with joy the many good things in our lives that you made possible, especially the 2015 Cousins Reunion in Brazil! Wow, what a great celebration of the Gordon legacy!
Valderson Ferreira | Oct 28, 2017 12:07pm
Dear Gary and Dolris- Allcitas told us about you... We are playing for you. May the LORD continue to give you strength. We remember with joy our last visit, realy a great time we have toguether. You are a exemplo of christian life our familly. Love and blessings. Valderson & Eugenia familly
Carol Henry | Oct 26, 2017 3:39pm
Gary and Doris, Liz just called to tell me about what's going on. Just a couple days ago I was visiting Liz and together we visited Susan and of course we talked about you too...All good thoughts. I'm so sorry to hear today's news. I'll pray for the Lord to wrap His arms around you and give you strength, wisdom, and peace as you make decisions for Gary, who is so loved by everyone...even beyond family all the way to Texas. (and Brazil ) ! I love you all, Carol
doris gordon | Oct 23, 2017 8:24pm
Today, Oct23, marks the second anniversary of our move to our new abode at Asbury Methodist Village. It's been a good move! I'm looking forward to our third one. DNG
Alcita Brown | Oct 30, 2017 4:58pm
I am sad to know that Gary is gone but not sorry. I have seeing his faith in action and it was an inspiration for my life. He is going to be missed so much. I also know that God will confort you all.
Denise Schleckser | Oct 30, 2017 9:18am
May God grant your family peace; our hearts go out to you.
Dick Dole | Oct 30, 2017 8:31am
MY DEAR BROTHER GARY COMPLETED HIS EARTHLY JOURNEY!!!! FOR HIM, I REJOICE! BUT OH, HOW I MISS HIM!!!! May our Wondrous Lord comfort our hearts as only He can, as we keep looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and as we press on to know Him. HE IS FAITHFUL! P.S. If anyone wants to remember dear Gary together, please call his lone little sister at 908 269-6046? Blessings!
Leslie Osman | Oct 30, 2017 8:15am
You are all on my heart today and in the coming days. Here's a piece from a passage by Kahlil Gibran that I read often. "When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. " https:// allpoetry.com/Joy-And-Sorrow-Chapter-VIII leslie
Patsy Fleishman | Oct 29, 2017 4:59pm
Dear Gary, Doris and family, Stuart and I have been praying for healing for Gary and for strength and peace for you all. We pray you can feel God's presence with you each step of the way and feel the power of all the prayers being said by so many people. We are all God's children, and He has you in the palm of His hands. Please know how very much we care. Sending our love to you. Patsy and Stuart
Jô G. Silva | Oct 29, 2017 12:46pm
Just want U. Gary to know that we love him and are praying and hoping for him to get better, recover, and return home! U. Gary's always been a great reference for us and our family, an awesome example of love and dedication to others, an admirable teacher, a friend, and I feel privileged to have had the special opportunity to live at 400 Center St between 1989-1990 for 9 months. During that time and so forth, he was an excellent uncle-father to me. May he and A. Doris (and all children and family) receive our affection and gratitude. We're tuned in here in Orlando, following the news. I didn't have the same opportunity to tell U. Alan how much I admired and appreciated him, but I don't want to miss the chance to express it to U. Gary now, and ask you to convey all our affection (including Marisa's and the girls) to him. God bless you all! Abração a todos
Mente e Coração
A Life of
Gary D. Gordon
from a Son’s Perspective
Norman G. Gordon, November 10, 2017
Lives usually end up being defined by roles. Usually there are a few ‘hats’ worn by an individual with which their life is summed up. And more often than not, their community has picked one of those roles around which to wrap their understanding of that individual.
Which is it for Gary Donald Gordon? Can you possibly boil his life and testimony to one or even two core roles? Is there one overarching identity that captures his essence? I think not. This ‘man for all seasons’ over the course of 89 years lived so many lives, wore so many ‘hats,’ influenced so many different people groups, conversed on so many levels, and impacted so many lives that unifying the significance of this life risks distorting reality. His life was a masterpiece and masterpieces cannot be reduced to one color or hue.
But having inherited his analytic mind, reduce I must. As for core identities, I’ll settle for three. Some of his less prominent identities – financial counselor, avid canoeist, spendthrift, swimmer – may not fit neatly in any of these three, a testament to the breadth of his engagement with the culture of his time. But I will expect little disagreement among those who knew him well with the prominence of the following three. I treat them separately to lift them up for celebration, not to obscure the enormous degree to which they overlap. You may not find all of Gary Gordon in these three, but certainly the lion’s share of his public identity is contained therein.
Gary Donald, the Missionary’s Son
Throughout most of the years I knew my father and to a greater extent in his later years, he had a go-to casual conversation topic that he invariably brought up as soon as there was anything close to a segue to it. It was not his career, although his professional accomplishments could easily fill up an evening of discussion. It was not his progeny, although he would beam when discussing his children and grandchildren. Rather, it was his singular family heirloom: “My father was a medical missionary. He started a hospital in the interior of Brazil.” My father adored his father. Not simply because Dr. Gordon Sr. was a gentle, humble servant of God, but because growing up, the future Dr. Gordon was able get a ringside view of Christian ministry at its best: faith in action, gospel proclaimed in word and deed, physical and spiritual needs addressed together, holistic service to the community, long-term committed incarnation of the Son of God in culturally-relevant terms. With faith as the inspiration and medicine as the means, Gary’s parents demonstrated the positive, lasting impact good news can bear both on the hospital bed and in the Sunday School classroom.
As far as he moved away geographically and culturally, my father never forgot his legacy; rather, he lived it. He was not technically a ‘missionary’ but he was unswervingly ‘mission’-minded. The context would contrast, but the fervor persist.
We saw it at home. While mainstream American Christians were relying on the church to teach their children the faith, we had family devotions. A preacher he was not but we got the message through the hymns, spiritual songs, and Bible readings: “the core message of Jesus Christ is important to me; I must pass it on.”
We saw it at church. My father served on the Missions Committee for several decades, both advocating for and personally supporting missionaries around the world. When the call went out for charter members of the new church plant down the road, my parents signed up and spent 10 years supporting the organizing pastor planting seeds. When my turn came up and my peers and I discussed going overseas for two-year stints as volunteer church workers, my peers’ parents gasped. Mine didn’t blink an eye: “but of course, why not?” Serving in missions overseas was almost a default occupation; in our family, you almost had to be called not to go!
But what most inspired me were the more subtle ways in which his missionary heritage surfaced. For example, his background easily qualified him to pursue a prestigious career at an agency such as NASA or in the defense industry. He was interested in neither. Why not? As he shared with me on several occasions, he wanted to design things that would offer a direct benefit to ordinary lives as would the communications satellites to which he would dedicate the majority of his working years. In the same manner, he could have held influential leadership roles in the church such as elder, deacon, or trustee. Instead, while active in church, he made a commitment early on that he would be just as if not more involved in the community as he was in the church. Consequently, his influence in our home town of Washington Grove exceeded that of Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church. As for a full-tenure professorship at a prestigious institution of higher learning, he had all the credentials – and none of the interest. I think it was for the same reason: he would rather be out on the front lines instructing those doing the work now than pontificating on the hypothetical; he taught many courses to spacecraft designers – down the hall from their offices.
And I see it in myself. When I left for Thailand as a Christian Volunteer in Mission in 1985, a former pastor wrote me and said: “Your family has a tradition of putting the creeds of their faith into action.” I learned from my father that material success, while helpful, is not a goal to be sought after. To the contrary, having an impact in society for God and for the good of humanity were Gordon life ambitions, which could, I learned, become idols unto themselves if I wasn’t careful, but were much preferable to alternative pursuits.
In later years, my father would be asked to contribute an essay as a scientist on why he believed in God in John Ashton’s The God Factor. Surprisingly, the rhetoric was not “even though science indicates thus, I still believe.” Rather, it was: “as a scientist, I trust things when they work. Based on my experience, Christianity . . . works!” Compelled by the history of his own life beginning in childhood, my father’s life projected a message that, while not always articulated, spoke clearly: ‘the redeeming power of God’s love is no fairy tale; I’ve seen it up close and personal; it’s real.’
Dr. Gordon, the SCIENTIST
My father was a genius from the get-go. It did not take long for his elementary school teachers to realize that his was no ordinary brain. Stories abound of his parents and teachers in the remote town of Rio Verde, Brazil trying to challenge it: reading an encyclopedia from cover to cover, teaching his own peers, outstripping his own teachers in math.
He often pointed out that any student who thinks they are at the top of their class need only to graduate to the next level of education to find that they are a little more mediocre than they thought. The same happened to my father - it just took a while! In a Ph. D. program in Physics at Harvard University, his intelligence was finally challenged when his professor told him that if he planned to stay on in the program, he had better work on bringing his one ‘B’ up to an ‘A’ the next semester. He did, and he graduated.
Combining the need for a lifelong challenge to his intellect with his missionary zeal to impact the world for good required just the right vocation. So when the call went out from RCA for some talented scientists to launch their business venture into manmade vehicles that could take bird’s eye views of hurricanes and such, my father readily heeded the call. It is hard to overestimate the deep sense of accomplishment he must have felt when, after he and his team carefully weighed all the many factors bearing on the temperature of a satellite in various positions in orbit and in relation to the sun, the report came back: their thermal predictions were right on the money; he helped successfully design a ground-breaking spacecraft that would pave the way for predicting weather, broadcasting across continents, and a panoply of humanitarian blessings down the road.
Having established himself definitively in the field, my father decided against managing, politicking, or creating new business ventures, as many of his colleagues did; rather, he stuck to what he was good at: solving people’s physics problems. I loved hearing about the job description verbally communicated by his boss at the onset of his new position as Senior Staff Scientist at the equally new Comsat Laboratories in Clarksburg, MD: “just walk around and figure out what needs to be done.” It wasn’t long before his brainpower and legendary love of helping people drew lines of engineers at his office door soliciting his expertise. It was the perfect solution to a brilliant mind and a heart to serve.
When he wasn’t tied up with a set of complicated algebraic formulas for a colleague, he found ways to use his prowess outside the office. He assured me that co-writing a textbook on Communications Satellites, still in circulation today, was not a money-making proposition but a labor of love for his colleagues in the field. He took special delight in mentoring sharp minds that would come after him, readily taking on interns and any other who would dare the complex orbital algorithms in which he dabbled. It should be no surprise that he was not only using but teaching computers long before they got into the hands of the layperson.
His able mind made its mark on the home front as well. In our house, if you had a language, art, or music question, you went to Mom. If you needed help with math or science, you went to Dad. It didn’t take long for me to realize that calculus was about as elementary to my father as addition and subtraction were to me; hiring an outside tutor to help me through was unnecessary. Accoutrements of a resident Einstein abounded in most rooms of the house: math puzzles, brain teasers, the Rubik’s cube, chess, magazines like Scientific American, and, of course, books. A veritable library of them. Of a myriad of topics, scientific and otherwise. Some stood in their designated spot on a shelf in one of the innumerable bookcases around the house. Others migrated to a coffee table near his reading chair before being re-shelved by a tidy family member. Still others never made it back to the shelves and instead, like paper attaches, hung around him to be available as vehicles for leisure and/or conversation starters. Some of his favorite books such as Francis Collins’ The Language of God or the John Ashton book, combined his love of science with his deep faith.
Science didn’t always ‘work’ for him. I vividly remember standing with my brothers around an open can of paint in the middle of our basement and listening to my father explain how he would use an electric drill to mix the paint by sticking it down into the can and turning it on while submerged. He accurately predicted that it would mix the paint. He did not accurately predict the resulting splattering of his children. We never tried that again. Nevertheless, whether it was the physics of music or the speed of light, the mechanics of how the physical world moved never stopped fascinating him. Science never completely defined the man but life without science would never have been his life.
Uncle Gary, the PATRIARCH
There were few things more important to him than serving others and using his gifted mind to do so. But there was one: his commitment to family. Deep roots in a close-knit cluster of descendants from Scottish immigrants in Connecticut; living apart from parents, siblings, and cousins for years at a time through the course of his upbringing; and a family-wide common ethos of service and dedication all contributed to an undying propensity to be there for his clan, whatever the need and whatever the distance.
Probably his greatest contribution to the Gordon clan was bringing as many together as often as possible. When he was young, he got to know his aunts, uncles, and cousins because of their geographical proximity to their ancestral home of Hazardville, Connecticut. When he became an adult, he overcame the lack of proximity to continue the connection. He is famous for writing a letter to his parents every week while in college or graduate school. In fact, letter-writing was an ingrained family tradition up until the internet took over. One of his most cherished memories is when he and all his siblings served as counselors at the same camp (Camp Good News) for a summer as young adults. At least two generations have inherited the camaraderie solidified among the four of them through such occasions as evidenced by clan-wide reunions in 1974 (25 in attendance), 1996 (54 in attendance), and 2014 (78 in attendance). If his financial generosity hadn’t made these occasions possible, his spirit alone would have. In between, my father hosted a family gathering every summer I can remember – whether or not even half the family could make it; the venue changed over the years and our employment and/or travels afar often precluded it for many of us but he never failed to make them available year after year. In fact, whenever family was in town, my father just could never seem to host enough dinners for us: if it was a year of abundance, in a restaurant; if not, picked up and brought home.
The list of ways he served his family is exhaustive. He was faithful to his wife, my mom, for 61 years of marriage. He spent most Saturdays that I remember growing up taking my brothers and sister and me whitewater canoeing or hiking, teaching us the all the important skills and carefully making sure we were both safe and having fun. He carried endless amounts of paperwork home from the office every night but was never too busy to stop and deal with a child’s question or problem. He believed in the power of education to provide opportunity and vocational fulfillment; his time, energy, and funding proved his determination to make the very best education his children wanted to pursue available to them. When his children had children, he was a big fan of their accomplishments, regularly attending soccer games, piano recitals, and ballet productions. And when his own parents returned to the United States for proper health care, it was – you guessed it! – my father who found for them a home, managed their affairs, and watched over each of them until their dying day.
It was my cousins who showed me not only how gentle and kind he was, but how generous. At the 2nd reunion in 1996, during a sharing time where each member of the family shared the blessings of recent years, one by one they thanked my father for a financial gift here, an interest-free loan there, and financial advice to boot. Alas! I suddenly discovered that he was the family banker! The real gift is that the repayment of loans or lack thereof never got in the way of his undying faithfulness and welcome each one. My hunch is that every loan he extended was potentially a gift in disguise.
But the gift to his family that I am most grateful for is the hospitality he showed to my cousins. All of them grew up in Brazil. Most of them came to the United States to study. When they did, none of them was without a home, an aunt, an uncle, and a whole lot of critical advice about going to college. Hence, the Gordon home in Washington Grove became the States-side geographical hub for the entire clan. From about age 15 – 31, I got a chance to live with – if even for just a few months – most of my Gordon-side cousins as they made their way up to start school somewhere on East Coast. Many are like brothers and sisters to me to this day because of my parents’ hospitality.
I am the proud beneficiary of my father’s embrace of his parents, his grandparents, and his great-grandparents conviction: service begins at home. Despite my zeal to make a difference in the world, the example of my father precluded me from prioritizing my vocation over my family. For this, I will be eternally grateful.
My father was in the hospital for ten days before he breathed his last. For the last seven, he was either intubated or sedated and rendered relatively incoherent. So the first three days in the hospital were his last days of communication, of being himself.
Death, or the proximity thereof, has a way of clarifying life.
My father’s life ended right where it arguably began: in a hospital. It was in those formative years at the Evangelical Hospital in little Rio Verde where he saw service, science, and family converge. Dr. Gordon Sr. started a hospital to meet the medical needs of the region. He stretched the limits of his intellect to design innovative techniques to heal with primitive medical equipment. And he brought his family along with him every step of the way; it was a ‘family’ business, as it were. In his last week on this earth, in the Suburban Hospital miles away from his childhood home, with his body failing and his mind losing the strength of its faculty, my own father articulated his three lifelong passions. One, he told me he wanted to get up and visit other patients down the hall just to share the love of Christ. I told him that he was a fall risk and that all he had on was a hospital gown! Had these restrictions not been in play, I have no doubt that he would have been found in a neighboring room striking up a conversation with a hurting soul to cheer or to guide. Two, with the help of his niece and nephew, he had just acquired, for the first time, a copy of his father’s Ph. D. thesis at Harvard University in 1921. It was a sanitation survey of the town of Thompsonville, Connecticut. He was eager to read it through and reclaim that precious spot at his dad’s side, watching him collect data and formulate recommendations for the public health of a community. Three, one of his final observations as he watched wife, children, nieces, and grandchildren take turns stopping in to check on him: “I don’t know how anyone could get through this without family.” Neither do I.
Propelled by the love and example of multiple generations of his beloved family, Gary Donald Gordon served his generation with a big heart and a keen mind. He gave to the world better cross-continental communication. He gave to his community a Christian witness and a willingness to serve wholeheartedly. And he gave to his family a love that pointed to a Benevolent Creator, One whose design for His creation is surpassed only by the grace He extends toward it.
My little contribution at Gary’s Memorial Service Nov.10, 2017
MY BELOVED BIG BROTHER GARY
His grandfather was a committed Circuit Rider pastor in the midwest.
His parents were extraordinary pioneer medical/educational evangelistic missionaries
His older sister was a dedicated pastor’s wife.
His younger brother was a unique medical/musical missionary.
His younger sister was a missionary pastor’s wife.
So Gary was the only one of the Donald and Helen Gordon quartet who didn’t go into “full time Christian work”? Wrong! Quite the opposite.
My amazing space scientist brother was a FULL TIME Christian who SERVED our LORD in ever creative and special ways. To quote my Luv, the Rev. Richard Dole:
“The Gordon clan is literally, figuratively and in every sense indebted to Gary for the generosity of his love, time and means to all of us.”
YES. Gary and his beloved life mate have not only blessed Gordon Clan missionaries and pastors, but many other folks in many corners of the globe, thus qualifying them as Bone Fide Home Base missionaries!
When Gary was 7 years old, our parents moved to a little town out in the middle of nowhere in the interior of Brazil----where they started their pioneer medical missionary work. No libraries. Nothing available to feed and stretch the minds of their kids.
Bless their hearts, even the teachers in the public schools didn’t have adequate preparation. They did the best they could. One gal told us, years later, that when she came to an algebra or science problem she, the teacher, couldn’t solve, she just asked Gary to please put his answer on the board and explain it― to the class, of course. With public school in the morning, our creative Mother home schooled us (before that term even existed) in the afternoons. She was a GREAT teacher.
Books were a priority. Above clothes, above anything.
Books not only for our home classroom, but for each of us. Our parents sacrificed, so we could have books― filling our personal shelves with great books given as birthday and CHRISTmas gifts.
Mother even opened a Lending Library ―in our living room―for the town’s young people. For them, books in Portuguese, but of course. But for us, books in English........including a beautiful Encyclopedia. The rest of us used it for reference, but Gary?
He READ it― every page of each volume, A to Z---from cover to cover!
Nobody told him to. For him, it was pure pleasure.
Concerned that their avid reader was getting too little exercise and “fresh air and sunshine,” Mother set Gary an “OUTDOORS!” time in the afternoon But when she went out to see what he had chosen to do. . .she couldn’t find Gary! ‘Til he answered her call―from a comfy branch on a mango tree, happily obeying his parents: He WAS outdoors! Reading, but of course!
It’s not a secret that our God gifted Gary with an extraordinarily high IQ. Somewhere I read that “ a person with an extremely high IQ is also a lousy human being who has an extremely low EQ (Emotional intelligence.)” Not Gary! Bless his heart, he had an equally high EQ AND..... HQ? What a beautiful heart engine accompanied that brilliant mind! Unlike some self-centered scientists, Gary was always thinking of ― and listening to― OTHERS!
In my last good Brother-Sister phone chat, my 89-yr-old brother shared with me:
“Been thinking about doing some tutoring to High School students
or. . . . .
Be a substitute teacher for High Schools ?
But I found out a LOT of people want to do that......
and I wouldn’t want to push them out of a job!”
As I signed off, I said, “Wish we could see you before winter snows us in. . .
To which my ever thoughtful brother replied,
“We still have visits to Hackettstown in our long-range planning!”
But our Awesome God had perfect long-range plans for Gary ―
as He does for each of us!
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
You will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with ALL your heart."
Gary’s life here below was a blessing.
But our Faithful Father was ever preparing him for Life Above.
And we could SEE it!
This great scientist was humble. Gary was so humble that he never made anybody feel “stupid”―not even his clueless Little Sis― but patiently answered my sometimes dumb questions. Always, throughout our shared lives.
He was kind.
He was one of a kind.
How I miss him!
LOOK UP: “See you soon, Gary!”
I’m sure many here today join me in praising our Wondrous Lord
for the blessing Gary and Doris have been to each and every one of us.
“Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name TOGETHER!”
INTRO TO “WONDERFUL GRACE OF JESUS!”
Our home was a musical home. Mother, an accomplished pianist, gave each of us piano lessons. Eventually Gary played the flute, and Alan the clarinet― AND any other instrument put in his hand. Gary played his flute in the orchestra at his high school, and in a community orchestra during college days.
Our family sang a lot― and loved doing so ―
at our daily Family Devotions. . . in the car. . . anywhere!
When I was in high school, my three siblings and I were counselors at Camp Good News on Cape Cod, enjoying a rare treat: the four of us together! With an even bigger blessing: the same Day Off each week!
One of the fun things we did was sing in 4-part harmony, and I can still remember singing this hymn when standing on the other side of the lake. . . . .
and later being told that they at Camp Good News had heard ― across the lake! ―
the Gordon quartet singing “Wonderful Grace of Jesus!”
WONDERFUL GRACE OF JESUS
1. Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it? Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free!
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!
Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus!
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
Alll sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise His Name!
2. Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned, saved to the uttermost;
Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.
3. Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power making him God’s dear child;
Purchasing peace and heaven for all eternity―
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!
― Haldor Lillenas
Generous to a fault. So helpful to so many.
Attentive even to needs others did not see !
Receptive, always willing to stop―and listen.
You were a perfect, precious Big Brother to me!
Giving. You were ever seeking to give.
Available. Always― at any time!
Responsive. Ready to help one and all.
You’ll be sorely missed, dear brother o’ mine!
MUSIC IN THE GORDON HOME
4 or 5-yr-old Alan had a little tin whistle, similar to a recorder but cheaper. He learned to play tunes on it, without much instruction. The next chance in São Paulo, our parents bought a wooden flute for him, which has a sound similar to the whistle, by blowing across a hole in the flute However, Alan wasn't able to purse his lips and blow, so they bought him a clarinet, which was easier for
him to blow.
So as not to waste the money, Gary was given the flute. To complete the trio (sorry, you were rather young) they bought Hope a violin.
Tenente Botelho was the leader of the Rio Verde band, and as such he
was an expert (?) teacher of any instrument.
So the three of us walked to his home once a week for our lessons.
He lived near the old jail, which wasn't far when we lived in João Eduardo's rented home. It was a longer walk when we moved to our own home. Tenente Botelho may not have had many credentials, but he did a good job of getting us started.
When we came to the States, I got a metal flute. I played in the
orchestra at Loomis, and in a community orchestra during college days.
While we were still in João Eduardo's house, the Escola Normal was planning a special program, for which D. Otilia, the principal, asked our family to sing the U.S. national anthem. Mother was rather ashamed that we didn't know it, but she accepted ― and that's when we learned to sing the Star Spangled Banner.
―Gary to Alminha
My world feels a lot emptier after the death last week of Gary Donald Gordon, my momʼs oldest brother and one of my closest relatives. When a malfunctioning heart valve landed him in the ICU at age 89, doctors concluded that repair options were few and unlikely to succeed. At his memorial service today in Maryland, there were probably passing references to his Harvard Ph.D. in physics or his contributions to the development of communication satellites at RCA, Comsat Laboratories, and Intelsat. But I’m pretty sure the focus of his memorial was on the reason Uncle Gary was so loved: his thoughtfulness, his character—who he was.
Uncle Gary was an anchor for me and so many others, a fountain of human kindness, good-natured humor, clever wit, and sound advice. He and his amazing life-partner, Doris Nichols, not only raised five incredible children of their own, but opened their hearts and hearth to many others. For nearly half a century, 400 Center Street was our extended familyʼs headquarters, a welcoming home away from home. If not for their generous interest-free loans and gifts, it is unclear if I could have afforded a decent undergraduate, must less graduate, education.
Born in 1928 in West Virginia, Gary Gordon grew up in rural Brazil as the second of four children, then returned to the U.S. as a teenager to attend Loomis Prep School and Wesleyan University. At age 28, two years after completing his doctoral studies, he married my Aunt Doris in Bostonʼs Old South Church. They ultimately settled in Washington Grove, Maryland, where my uncle loved taking family and friends on hikes and canoe trips through the natural beauty of surrounding rivers and forests.
In the late 1980s and early ‘90s as an unmarried student in Baltimore, I would regularly hop on a Greyhound bus or MARC train to D.C. on weekends, then take the Metro to the Shady Grove station, where Uncle Gary would warmly greet me at the Kiss & Ride in his trademark sweater vest. Later, when Sana and I were raising a family in Arlington, Virginia, from 2004 to 2013, I would drive my sons up for visits.
The highlights of all those visits for me were our freewheeling chats about everything from family, national, and international news, to science, public policy, sound money management, religion, and politics. As a fellow Myers-Briggs personality type INTJ, Uncle Gary was a principled pragmatist who loved to openly discuss ideas, celebrate human virtue, satirize hypocrisy, debunk myths, and ponder how best to make any system work more efficiently and effectively in the interests of all affected.
Ever curious, Uncle Gary as a teenager famously read his way through an entire encyclopedia. Then, as an adult in the pre-internet era, he kept two full sets of encyclopedias handy in the family dining room, plus an almanac, world map, and dictionary, so they could be quickly consulted whenever a mealtime question came up.
What distinguished Uncle Gary most, though, was his integrity, humility, and lack of self-centeredness. He was committed to honest thinking, open to diverse viewpoints and new data, and never too proud to admit uncertainty. As Benjamin Franklin wisely advised in his autobiography, Uncle Gary was not afraid to qualify his statements with “As I understand it” or “Iʼm not sure.”
The breadth of Uncle Garyʼs outlook was inspiring. His career in satellites often invited him to consider our tiny blue planet and its problems from the deeper, longer-term perspective of space. He worked with scientists from around the world to launch communication satellites into orbit so that humanityʼs conversations could more easily transcend artificial borders.
Growing up overseas during the Great Depression and World War II, Uncle Gary watched his father leverage a Harvard Medical School education into the establishment of a not-for-profit hospital in the Brazilian town of Rio Verde, Goiás. And like his father, Uncle Gary had a knack for quickly getting beyond small talk and meaningfully engaging with folks regardless of their sociological differences. Rather than orbiting conversations around themselves, both father and son sought to learn from others, inquiring with genuine curiosity about the other personʼs expertise, experiences, and viewpoints. Thanks to that legacy of openness, our familyʼs embrace has expanded to include members from Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, Lebanon, and the Philippines.
With whatever breath I have remaining, I will be trying to pass along to my three sons and others around me at least a glimmer of Uncle Garyʼs big-hearted, generous, empathetic, inclusive, intellectually curious and honest, wide-lens perspective on life. No matter how popular or unpopular their sociological book covers, Uncle Gary tried to treat all people and ideas on their merits, based on the content of their character.
I last saw my uncleʼs generous smile on the morning of October 12, 2017, during a work trip to D.C. At the end of my wonderful overnight stay with him and Aunt Doris in their retirement community apartment, he dropped me off at that same Shady Grove Metro Kiss & Ride where he and I had both met and parted on so many prior occasions. Physical displays of affection sometimes made Uncle Gary uncomfortable, but had I known it would be our last farewell on that spot, I would have dropped my suitcase, rushed back to the car, and given him the huge hug he will always deserve from a very grateful nephew. For as long as my own heart keeps beating, Uncle Gary, I will miss you profoundly.
Dear Father, Friday, November 10, 2017
I will greatly miss your smile, your voice, your laughter, your welcoming embrace. So many good memories of you have flooded my mind in these days since you died that I can hardly record them fast enough. Many of my fondest memories of you are the times you took the family canoeing. As I think about it more and more, you really taught me so much on those canoe trips. You taught me the importance of good planning. You had the details of preparation down to a science. Each of us knew what we needed to bring, where to find it, how to pack it, and where everything went once we got to the river. Even when I was 5 or 6 years old, you gave me specific jobs to do and things I could carry, like life jackets piled on my body one on top of the other. I learned how to pack sandwiches in army amo boxes and fill canteens of water, and put our extra bag of clothes in the big army duffle bag. We were prepared for just about everything because you knew that unexpected things could happen on the river. We all knew which canoe we would be in long before we got to the river and whether we were paddling in the bow or the stern. And of course, you taught me how to paddle, giving me a kids-size paddle to start with so I‘d get the feel of it. You showed me how to read the river with its rocks and currents, even before I was really paddling. I learned that the boat sometimes flows with the current and wind – not necessarily in the direction it is pointed. You taught me the dangers of the river, but not to panic or be afraid. You taught us how to work together as a family, helping to bale each other out when we got into troubled waters or stuck on a rock. You gave us time to rest from our paddling, and enjoy a picnic lunch which was always begun with a blessing and thanks to God, and thanks to Mom for her great food preparations. You gave us time to enjoy the beauty of the river, to hear the birds singing, watch the ducks swim ahead of us, and I can remember those times when we were on a quiet stretch of the river, you’d begin a song with your clear tenor voice, that matched so beautifully with Mom’s, and we’d all join in.
You also taught us to share with others. Some of our canoe trips were with friends or people we’d just met from the canoe club. I’ll never forget the time I was paired up with a fellow who had strong arms to paddle but was inexperienced. It was a frightening experience ending up stuck on a rock in the midst of raging currents all around us. But it was not the river that scared me because you had trained me well. It was this stranger in the boat with me who was in such a panic that he was yelling at me instructions that I knew weren’t good. But you were not far off and knew what I was going through, and when it was all over and we were back in the car to go home, you comforted me and told me you were proud of me for staying calm even though I did not have a good paddling partner that day. You did not speak ill of him, but simply explained he was inexperienced and well, more afraid than I was. Father, thank you for giving me courage that day and teaching me humility and grace before others, even when they fail us. Just as you taught me how to navigate the river with all its beauty, its strength, and its unexpected turns, you taught me how to navigate the flowing waters of life.
I will miss you – more than words can express. Death always seems to come too soon, I think because we are not ready for it...or at least I wasn’t. But by God’s grace, you were ready, I believe. I know because I suddenly found myself praying earnestly for you, with tears streaming down my face as I lay down to sleep that night, that no matter what happens, God would make his presence surround you with his peace and that you would know that the Spirit of God is with you. Only moments later, the phone rang and Mother and I heard the news of your passing from this early life. Our hearts were heavy with sadness, but somehow we knew the peace of God which passes all understanding. I will miss you, Father!
With all my love and gratitude,
your daughter, Carol Sue
Dear Father and Mother,
Friday, October 16, 2015
Thank you for giving us a wonderful, happy, and safe haven called HOME! Oak Manor was your home for forty-six years. For us children, it was our home for many of those years, but also it became a home-away-from-home while in places like Brazil and Ecuador, and from as far away as Thailand, Greenland, and Iraq.
How good it was to always have a place to call “our home”. Through the woodsy Washington Grove we would come, down Maple or Ridge Road to 400 Center Street at the very end. (Why would we want to go any further?) I never realized until I got older that not everyone was blessed with so many oak trees in their yard. Sure, the leaves were a big chore to rake (and of course, I didn’t appreciate the work required as a kid), but that’s what made Fall - Fall! I am ever so thankful to have grown up with such a stark reminder of the Autumn season. When I think of the yard at Oak Manor, I see not only the oaks and the yew shrubs, but all the trees and plants that were there before – the pink and white dogwoods, the Japanese maple, the big huge conifer (was it a spruce or hemlock?) in the southwest corner, the daffodils, the irises, the peonies, the roses, the forsythia, and of course the lily-of-the-valley by the front driveway.
We children have so many memories of arriving through the red front door with its “Gordon” sign swaying and clanking against the wood — to be greeted with wide open arms and loving hugs and kisses from you! How many others came through that big red door? – All of us children, siblings, parents, in-laws, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, relatives, friends, fiancées, and sojourners from far away. You gave the “Gordon” name much of which to be proud!
The living room was truly a family room for cherished gatherings, the place where we caught up with one another, sang and prayed together, played musical instruments and games, talked for many hours on all topics. The piano was truly a “keynote speaker” (had to get one pun in) in the history of that room. I never can understand those people who have pianos in their houses but “nobody” plays it. What a blessing it always was to hear such well-played melodies emanating throughout the house from that piano - sacred and classical music, songs from musicals, Christmas carols, well-loved hymns, old familiar songs from the past, songs everywhere from “He’s Everything to Me” to “The New Jerusalem”. I can remember times when I was sick or not feeling well and someone in the house would be playing the piano - what a comfort for the soul.
There was a lot of activity around that strong and sturdy coffee table. Norman and I played countless games of Jack Straws on it, along with other two-person games. Then at Christmas time, it held the bowl of mixed nuts which we all enjoyed cracking, plus the walnut stuffed dates that Mom and I usually made. It held tea and snacks for us and guests, and held up well with youngsters playing toys on and around it. And it held the large picture books and photo albums that gave rise to many conversations and memories shared.
I can still see you, Father, in your big recliner chair, deep in thought and launching warmly into long conversation with us about science, religion, finances, canoeing, or whatever concerns were on your family’s minds. Many a letter was read aloud from that chair. I’m glad you had your chair too, Mom, always rocking with joy to see us, while always ready to jump up and tend the kitchen if needed.
In my mind, the fireplace still glows with late-night embers from an expertly-made fire, to roast marshmallows or just to give us warmth and a cozy atmosphere. Thanks, Father, for all the wood you chopped and stored and carried up the stairs! The hearth was a favorite place for lingering and pondering many things. I can still see hanging over the fireplace that large framed painting of ocean waves at sea, and at Christmastime, the string of Christmas ornaments below, along with the sparkle and pine scent of a real Christmas tree close by. And now there’s the mantle that has held the photos of family and loved ones. Even the carpeted floor was a welcoming place with that round multi-colored, latch hook rug that became the center of our play, our games and toys, our oratory performance in charades, or just a place for Mittens to curl up and sleep. And far above, just near the ceiling, still remains the decorative stenciling that Mom and I painted years ago – one of the many happy memories of mother-daughter times.
We thank you for the kitchen and all the nourishing meals so lovingly prepared for us, morning, noon and evening. Thanks, Mom, for your countless hours of cooking, baking, and cleaning, and making sure we had nourishing, balanced and delicious meals – meal-in-a-dish egg casserole, topsy turvy tuna lemon pie, the sausage-sweet-potato-apple dish, that weird looking but absolutely yummy homemade lentil soup, Anadama bread, and so much more. Thanks for putting up with all our interruptions and walking through the kitchen. Thanks Father, for making sure we had the finances to always have plenty of food at hand. Just as importantly, this kitchen was the place that we kids learned how to cook (thanks for letting us experiment!), how to prepare our lunches and of course, how to clean up! Although doing dishes was not our favorite task, I do have some fond memories of plenty of laughter with my brothers as we worked side-by-side. I have so many good memories in the kitchen with you, Mom. You taught me how to cut with a sharp knife, how to peel vegetables, shuck corn, cook rice, mix cookie dough and cut in the butter, how to polish silver and properly set the table.
We are so thankful for the dining room with its three picture windows that gave us views of the Grove that I shall never forget. No wonder every time I sit down to a meal wherever I am, I find myself looking for a window view to enjoy while I’m eating. Surely this room was one of the best additions to the house – I can’t imagine the house without it. So many wonderful meals were shared here. We all remember our original places at the table. So many good conversations, stories told of Boy Scout trips, canoeing ventures, hiking tales, topics covered of music, handbell choir, chess games, jokes like ham sandwich and apple pie. And of course we discussed physics questions, satellite orbits, math puzzlers, the World Cup, and much more. No matter the question, Father, you always either had an answer or you knew how to look it up. And as we always said, if we haven’t opened an encyclopedia book, the World Almanac, or some book in the house, or if Father hasn’t pulled out a sheet of scrap paper and a pen to explain something, then we haven’t really shared a good (or long enough) meal.
But the dining room was much more than just a place to eat. The table held many a board game, card games, Jenkins, and many after dinner fun. It was also the sewing table, the homework table, the “figuring out stuff” table, the planning table, the sorting table, the Christmas letter mailings table. And we all remember that alongside the table, used to be Father’s desk and office. How we fit all that in there, I don’t know, but it worked for a time. Your desk, Father, made a great place to sit and watch the birds from the birdfeeder, which was, by far, the coolest birdfeeder! I think we all (including Mittens) learned to identify and appreciate the size and beauty of many birds (and squirrels) because of it. Your desk, Father, was also the place where my brothers played that trick on me with the tracing the quarter and then rolling it on my face, among other such brother-sister entertainment. But more fondly, I remember your presence at the desk, working hard, but always willing to stop a moment to tie my dress bow or even fix my broken necklace chain.
We are thankful for the old record player and all the records it played, from Tom Lehrer to Fiddler on the Roof, from Godspell to Peter, Paul, and Mary, from the Nutcracker to Capellia and all the classics from the William Tell Overture to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue to Handel’s Messiah and much more.
What a blessing it was to have the home full of music! Not only from the record player and the piano, but all the instruments we played. Thanks for all the music lessons and for bearing with all our different sounds and melodies emanating from nearly every room in the house, as we learned to play the notes. And thanks for teaching us to sing and share our music with others.
We thank you for a home with just the right number of bedrooms (I’m sure nine would have been too many to clean!) and the peaceful sleep they provided. The hallway was our meeting place for late night chats and giggles with siblings before turning into bed. Good memories I have of being tucked in at night and wished “boa noite” and “dorma bem”. The sound of crickets still brings me back to times I would lay in bed with the windows open and listen to the amazing chorus of crickets pouring in from the Grove forest. Many of us can recount being awakened by an owl hooting in the distance. I was also very glad for an East-view window that let in the morning sun and bathed my room with warmth for a new day. Each bedroom had its unique features. Perhaps by now, nearly all of us have slept in the upstairs rooms at one time or another as the years have gone by and needs have changed. Thanks, Father and Mother, for accommodating us and our families so generously for so many of our adult years. In particular, my handsome hubby and I have enjoyed many relaxing nights in that cozy upstairs room – truly, a home away from home.
We had the luxury of three bathrooms with showers/baths, which certainly came in handy when we arrived back from our canoe trips, all wet and grimy from our river fun.
Up the stairs to the top floor we so often climbed (some of us more out of necessity than others). I learned early on to distinguish the sound of each person’s footsteps up and down those stairs. And whenever the footsteps paused for a moment, it was likely that person was stopping to browse through the vast collection of books on the shelves that lined those stairs. I think I even sat on those stairs for extended periods to read a good book I found on those shelves. The window that used to be at the top of the stairs was the place I remember we viewed the wonders of the stars and a lunar eclipse, I believe. The attic crawl space held our seasonal treasures – Christmas ornaments, Halloween costumes, and other various decorations and lights, plus suitcases, model train tracks, and things I’ve long forgotten.
The deck was another pretty cool addition, even if it wasn’t used as often as we’d liked. It afforded us a higher and deeper view into the park and at night up closer (seemingly) to the stars. I enjoyed the option of going out there on occasion when I wanted to just have a look and get a new perspective on our yard (or to say ‘hi!’ to Mother, gently tending her garden below).
The basement certainly housed a number of activities down through the years. There’s the rec room that served us well during rambunctious games such as Blind Man’s Bluff or with hours of watching Star Trek, or playing Pong (things that Norm’s kids will never understand). When the television was later moved, we enjoyed watching movies, World Cup soccer, and the National Symphony Orchestra on the Capital’s lawn. But I’m thankful that our close-knit home life was never usurped by that captivating screen; it was used in good proportion to all else that we did.
The laundry room, though always used for laundry, was also later transformed into Mom’s ceramic studio. What creative and beautiful pottery you created, Mom! Thanks for sharing your wonderful talent with us and even teaching some of your children and grandchildren how to ‘throw’ a pot!
The far room beyond the next door became your office for many years, Father. Thank you for working so diligently on countless problem-solving projects, papers, figures, charts, articles, letters … and for taking the time to help me with so many of my calculus problems in school! Still today, the sound of a paper cutter brings back fond memories of your office, which had everything we needed for our own little projects – scrap paper, staple remover, carbon copy paper, graph paper, calculator, and later a copier too. And of course, we can’t forget the Kaypro computer with its bright green letters … oh and the typewriters, both the manual and electric. Two sounds I remember coming from your office: the sound of the typewriter and the opera music playing on the radio. Kids today will never know the mysterious beauty of those ancient sounds.
Probably the least favorite memory of the basement is the occasional flooding over the years; sometime, of course, it was too occasional to keep up with. We may never know the hours you spent, Father, dealing with a wet basement. Thank you for all your efforts in making it as dry as possible! Having just scraped and painted my own basement this summer, I REALLY learned to appreciate all the work it took for you to keep that darn basement dry!
Along the stairs up from the basement, were many of our jackets, the box of rags (very handy!), and the box of assorted mittens, scarves, and hats. Each of these winter necessities belonged to one of us, but was later shared and passed along to others, in good Gordon fashion. And, once upon a time, we had our cat, Mittens, and his food dish and water was by the door. In my mind’s eye, I can still hear the flapping sound of the doormat outside! Who’s that? Why, it’s Mittens, wanting to come in one last time.
The porch was another versatile room and a wonderful extension of our living space. In the summer, we ate many picnic-style meals with family and cousins all seated at our two picnic tables. Food was served and passed through that handy window from the kitchen. Thank you for creating such good mealtime memories that often culminated with the watermelon seed-spitting contests. Aside from an eating area, it was also the place we played ping-pong, even round-robin style at least once. But I also remember many quiet times of smaller gatherings, or listening to the birds, and the breeze, or the oncoming storms.
The backyard was a place of precious memories as well. It was the place we played baseball and soccer as kids. It was the place where Father set up a net for many a great volleyball game. Thank you for our entire yard which was the only yard on the block big enough it seemed for playing hide-and-go-seek – hours of fun!
Father, how can we thank you enough for the swimming pool which you so lovingly and skillfully (with a little of our help) put up each year, making sure all the leaks were patched. We certainly got our (your) money’s worth, wouldn’t you say? The whirlpool and “wave”-making definitely made it memorable! Only a physicist would have thought of that! This was our ‘Westmoreland’ swimming pool; smaller, yes, but exploding with memories!
And then, when the pool was gone, we enjoyed the lovely, colorful garden that was the fruit of Mom’s patient labor where the pool used to be. How I enjoyed walking with you, Mom, to look over each of the plants you had planted in its place, trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t as well as appreciating the uniqueness of each plant. It was a beautiful way of transforming the circular void left by the pool into a work of art!
And, Father, your creative and resourceful skills were what made the garage able to hold so much! How you fit two cars, three canoes and one kayak, plus numerous bikes inside (not to mention all the things stored in the garage attic) is truly a mark of ingenuity. Perhaps there was more in it than needed to be but at least you always kept the important things accessible – the cars, the bikes and the canoes! Those canoes were definitely one of the best investments you made for our family. I am so grateful for the skills we learned on the river, the adventures we shared, the sites we witnessed in nature, and the bonds our family formed while paddling those canoes. As a result, Voilet’s Lock and Lunchstop Island became family traditions, creating stories we tell and retell even now.
And finally, some other memories of our yard: the roses that always used to bloom on Father’s birthday (under my bedroom window), picnicking with Mom under the Japanese maple long ago, playing badminton with Father in the side yard, building miniature stick teepees with Norman, Alan’s Christmas decorations up in the oak tree, the grass mowings (thanks to Father and all my brothers!) and the leaf burnings, the swing in the front yard, the round-seated wooden swing in the side yard, planting the Blackgum tree with Mom, Mittens welcoming us home, the 17-year locusts, all the snow shoveling and snowman making, the icicles, Donald’s bamboo, and the legendary fort!...and more recently, Dubside’s exercise ropes! I’m sure there’s more.
That front yard swing from the old oak tree will always hold a special memory for me. Thank you, Father, for building it. Thanks to my brothers (and later my Hubby) who swung me on it, and thanks, Mom, for letting me swing so high! It was the best!
Thank you, Father and Mother, for our HOME. Oak Manor, indeed, was the best house we could have possibly had for our family! But what made those memories of our home the best memories … is the loving family that lived in it!
With much love and utmost gratitude,
TO MY HUSBAND, by Doris Gordon
The house is still
The day’s work almost done.
Sunny skies outside have become clouded
In anticipation of a coming storm,
Although it may not come.
I pause to meditate and become
Refreshed after working.
A change of clothes
A change of pace –
This is the calm before the storm
Of gladness, a husband’s return
And kiss, the baby’s waking
The warmth of a family at supper
The rhapsody of voices
Happy in the sharing of thoughts
With loved ones.
It’s pretty certain, and yet,
Life is never certain
It goes beyond our ordinary
The things which happen in the whole world
Eventually affect us all.
I cannot blot out the thoughts
Of those who are never certain
What kind of storm will come
After the calm.
Some wives whose husbands
May not come home at all
Because of injustices over which
They have little or no control.
All countries are not like mine
All husbands are not like mine
I must rejoice in the joys I have
While I have them.
My Father Shines Like the Stars
He does not beam like a floodlight
on a stage for all to see
Nor does he burst on the scene
like a fireworks display!
No, you see...
My father’s been shining all along
and doesn’t need a special show.
He’s only noticed by those few
who take the time to watch, and know
that as daylight falls to dusk,
those first stars will appear
one by one, in calm and silence...
one by one, the beauty’s here!
Not racing by like comets,
or meteors in their flight.
But floating through Night’s river
like canoes that drift on by,
Only then can the mind give ponder
to the problems of how and why.
The twinkling radiance we’re now seeing
did not spring from first impulse.
Posing questions for an answer,
we wait for his remark.
It may seem that he is stalling,
but “Quiet please, genius at work.”