Gary Gordon

First post: Oct 23, 2017 Latest post: Oct 30, 2017
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 New Jersey early in their marriage, and then settled in Washington Grove, Maryland where they lived for 46 years.

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, uncle, 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). 

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