Archie Gordon

Obituary of Archie Gordon

Archie Watt Gordon, age 87, passed away on January 22, 2009. A viewing will be held at 2:00 PM on Monday, January 26, followed by a memorial service at 3:00 PM at Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, 910 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, Florida. Mr. Gordon will be buried in Ocala at Highland Memorial Park. Archie was a native Floridian who was born and raised in Ocala, Florida. In the early 1900's, Archie's father, Henry Gordon, served as Sheriff of Marion County and also as Chief of Police of Dunnellon, where he was killed in the line of duty. Archie was three years old at the time. As his father's only surviving son, Archie was raised by his mother Bertha, his two older sisters, Lillian and Winnie, all of whom precede him in death; and, he was lovingly mentored by many male members of the community, notably the late Clifford Fawcett Sr. Archie served in the Navy during World War II as a Boatswain's Mate First Class. Following the war, Archie attended the University of Miami, then the University of Florida, where he enjoyed college life as a Kappa Sigma fraternity member and also graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering with honors. Archie worked his entire career and life as a professional engineer. He served as a civil engineer and also specialized in electrical engineering for much of his life, helping to establish rural electric cooperatives throughout the entire state from Key West to Panama City. In point of fact, Archie served for 61 years as the consulting engineer for Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative in Wewahitchka, Florida, retiring in December 2008. During the last 20 or so years of his life, Archie worked in the field of forensic engineering where he pioneered and set many forensic standards. He was also an expert in the field of water management working to preserve and protect Florida's water. Archie was a partner for decades with Marion Engineering in Ocala, and even at his death, still owned and operated his own firm "Gordon Engineering." Archie Gordon leaves a legacy of unparalleled accomplishments and a foundation that still supports extraordinary excellence of engineering products and services for a vast number of recipients all over the Southeast. Archie was an avid hunter whose woodsman skills began as a youth hunting and fishing in the Ocala National Forest to help feed his family. As a young adult he put his woodsman skills to task working for the Ross Allen Reptile Institute at Silver Springs, where he performed daily rituals of putting alligators to sleep and waking them up; and, handling a variety of writhing snakes for awe struck tourists, especially enjoying the drama of catching and milking fierce looking rattling specimens surrounding him in the Institute's famous "rattlesnake pit." Archie was completely at home in the piney woods or flatwoods, cypress swamps or the great deep woods of Florida. The walls and beams of Archie and his wife Mary's incredible home in Lake Weir, bears witness to his love of the outdoors and his skill as a woodsman. Every available inch of the cypress walls and large beams, are covered with such things as deer antlers, wild boar heads, alligator and Florida crocodile skulls, stuffed wide mouth bass, rattlesnake hides that stretch beyond the 15 foot mark and literally hundreds of natural artifacts collected during a life spent immersed in the simple and profound pleasure of living in the Florida woods. Archie was also a master of the "tall tale." He was a natural and mesmerizing storyteller, who practiced with purpose to preserve the art and skill of recording and orally recounting history through storytelling. He never missed an opportunity to tell a tale and all his life he easily gathered a willing and enthusiastic audience who were instructed and entertained at the same time. He encouraged his own children to remember and recite the old Florida Cracker pioneer tales that he himself had been taught and retold time and time again. He was also a walking, living encyclopedia of the discovery and contemplation of the natural life, creatively shared through stories that one could not help but remember. His own tales were those of fang and claw, survival in the wild, good old fashioned shenanigans and the contemplation of the mysteries of the universe. Archie's stories are part of the very fabric of the oral history of Florida; Archie knew and appreciated that, treasured it and dedicated a large part of his life to ensuring the survival of storytelling as an essential human skill. Like a large oak that stood as a backdrop to the lives of many, Archie Gordon was an authentic Florida Cracker, a well educated and informed historian, a cultural preservationist, a conservationist, a pioneer in the field of engineering and a human being extraordinaire. In reality, it is impossible to capture the legacy he leaves behind; his capacity to perceive and translate what he experienced into something uniquely greater, was too vast to be contained. His death ties a knot in the weave of a section of Florida's history; an incredible, beautiful, intricate knot of the life of a native Floridian who can only be described as legendary in his own right. Archie is survived by his wife of over 56 years, Mary W. Gordon of Weirsdale, Florida; his daughter, Marjorie Gail Gordon Swindell of Havana, Florida; his son, Gregory Henry Gordon and his wife Linda Gordon of Ocala, Florida; his granddaughter, Sarah Beth and her husband Paul Harbus of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, his nephew Kelly and grandnephew Travis Cook of Washington state. In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations being made in Archie's memory to Hospice or to the Florida Sheriff's Boys Ranches of Florida.
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