Letters from alumnI about
Ernest Gordon, former POW and former dean of the Chapel
February 19, 2002
We want to reflect on and honor the life of Ernest Gordon, dean of the chapel, emeritus. His recent death prompts us to give thanks for his life, for his support and encouragement of our lives, and for the model of the Judeo-Christian life, which he manifested for so many, many members of the university Community.
We first met Dean Gordon in the fall of 1965, when we were freshmen. The power of his own personal story and his experiences as a prisoner of war made him a most compelling person. Here was a man whose thoughts about life's most important commitments had been tried and tested in a fiery crucible. What Dean Gordon said was backed up by a life which was true to his thoughts and words.
Dean Gordon was a powerful presence in the pulpit of the chapel. He spoke about a living God. He exhorted us to take life in the world seriously, especially the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam. He urged us to be intelligent and mature men and women of faith. The chapel, under his leadership was a place both of proclamation as well as a celebration of the arts. Music, drama, poetry were all brought forth as means for us to hear a word from God about the direction and purpose of our lives.
Finally, Dean Gordon took members of the university community seriously as men and women of promise. On many occasions, he listened privately to our hopes as well as our pain and helped us to discover ways to live our own lives with integrity and grace.
As we think of our time as students and the directions that our lives have taken since graduation, Dean Ernest Gordon is clearly one of the most inspiring, one of the most enduring, and one of the most stable persons of this remarkable, community who have influenced our lives for the good.
We give thanks for his life and for the opportunity to be under his pastoral care. We mourn his death and sense the gap which his death has created in our lives and, no doubt, in the lives of many others.
Paul G. Sittenfeld 69
Christopher M. Thomforde 69
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