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  • Writer's pictureTASC of Southeast Ohio

Robert Dean Gordon - 9/26/2018

Updated: Oct 5, 2018

Robert Dean Gordon was born in Gallia County at the original Holzer Hospital on May 16, 1963 to Bobby and Dorothy (Howard) Gordon. On September 24, 2018, Bobby went home to be with his parents, an infant sister and his grandparents. Together, on August 25, 2018, Bobby and Sherry Lynn Wilson Gordon celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. In those 28 years, Bobby and Sherry have raised three sons whom survive him. Nathaniel Alexander Gordon (Fiancé, Marea Johnson; Christopher Valentine and Aniston Cooper), Christopher Adam Gordon (Meghan Caldwell) and Matthew Avery Gordon along with his beloved dog, Max Allen, all of Gallipolis, Ohio.

A 1981 graduate of Gallia Academy High School, Bobby Dean went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Rio Grande in Public Relations. He was also a Certified Public Manager and a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt. As the Director of the Childrens Residential Treatment Program of Woodland Centers; a residential facility for severely emotionally disturbed youth, he began his career in the mental health field leading him to become the Executive Director of the Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime (TASC) Program. He then went on to serve as the City Manager of Gallipolis, Ohio, becoming the first African-American to hold that office. He also served as Gallipolis Health Commissioner and on the Ohio TASC Association.

Bobby retired after serving 12 years as Senior Project Manager with the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs with Ohio University. While in the role of Senior Project Manager, he continued to serve the communities he loved in Southeastern Ohio and throughout the State providing leadership and oversight to projects such as the Mayors’ Partnership, #imaginepomeroy,, Economic Development Administration, Master of Public Administration, and Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) Outreach Coordinator, just to name a few.

Having a passion and belief in serving, Bobby graciously held positions on several civic committees and councils throughout his career and was currently serving as a Commissioner of the Ohio Martin Luther King Holiday Commission and Executive Board Member for Ohio Humanities and the Ohio Chautauqua - Gallipolis Committee where he was also a founding member and a 2018 Committee Honoree.

Appointed in 2014 as a Gubernatorial from Ohio Governor John Kasich he served continuously through 2017 as the only representative from Appalachia.

Numerous committees, boards, and councils include: Ohio Humanities (Council) – Serving multiple terms on the Board of Directors, until his resignation due to illness in 2017. Chair of the Finance Committee and the only representative from Appalachia. Gallia County French Art Council. Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board. OSU Extension Advisory Committee. District 15 Public Works Integrating Committee. NAACP. Gallia County Community Service Committee. Southern Consortium for Rural Care. Woodland Centers, Inc. Board of Trustees. Emancipation Day Celebration – President Emeritus. Co-Founder of the Emancipation Day Scholarship. Valley Artist Series Selection Committee. Maestro for the Moment Candidate – Ariel. Gallia County Historical Society and Ariel Board.

While Bobby received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career, the following are a select few: Recognition of Service to the Appalachian communities through his tenure with Ohio University, by Sherrod Brown, United States Senator. Proclamation of years of service leadership to Appalachia Ohio, by Bill Johnson, Member of Congress. Recognition upon retirement; services to the State of Ohio, by John R. Kasich, Governor and Mary Taylor, Lieutenant Governor. Special Recognition to the appointment of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, by Ryan Smith Representative, House District 93. Appointments to the Ohio Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday - An Appalachian by birth, Bobby was dedicated to the Appalachian Region through his “known” heritage of five paternal generations Commission by Governor John Kasich. Certificate of Appreciation for contributions to community in history, music, civics and culture, 26th Black History Program, Reverend Christian Scott; and the Ohio University Administrative Service Award.

He had a passion for the arts, arts of all kinds. A musician himself, he played percussion, and amassed a large collection of percussion instruments and others that he could not even play. He was an artist who loved to draw and take pictures. Bobby was a writer of poetry and short stories and a thespian who loved to be on stage and to direct. Of all the arts, singing was his passion, he could command the stage, move you to tears and mesmerize you with the lyrics. Not only was he a soloist, he performed with and directed many groups: Madrigals, Grande Choral, Youth United for Christ, Ordinary People, Christ Episcopal Church Choir, Gospel Harmony Boys and countless others.

Bobby was a historian and diversity speaker who loved to trace his family history, interview family members and share this information with others. He was able to trace his family to the Civil War. Bobby’s passion was African American history and sharing his collection through “truck show” presentations. He amassed a large collection of African American artifacts, educational materials and regional history such as: shackles, slave papers, advertising, KKK items, Underground Railroad maps and much more that he has presented throughout the region.

He was an avid antique collector preferring the Victorian and vintage eras that he loved to refinish and restore. He loved collecting and what began as an individual love, became outings for Bobby and Sherry that transpired into a family affair. Due to his passion they all have become collectors. Many of his collections have been displayed at museums throughout the state and he was a major contributor of items during special events at Bob Evans and Chautauqua.

With all of the accomplishments whether it be work, civic duties, committees, appointments from heads of states, his greatest and most cherished accomplishment was that of being a family man. Not only to his sons and wife but also to all of his relatives. Growing up as an only child many of his cousins became more like siblings to him. Those relationships remained strong throughout his life. However, with Bobby, you did not have to be a blood relative to be family. Dorothy Gordon was his mother but he was fortunate to have several other strong women that took him under their wing too: Jan Bergdoll, Joyce Thomas, Edie Ross, Anne Fischer, Beverly Wilson, Momma Jean Norman, along with family members Jackie Howard and Merle Howard who helped shape him into the man that he became.

Many of you knew him by another name, some of these he received as a young child and others later in life: Robert, Bob, Bobby, Robby, Rob, Godzilla, Dad, Pops, Gordy, Dean, Bobby Dean, Bobby D, Bobby G, Mister G, PC, Babe, The Voice, Roberto, Gentle Giant and Kemosabi. And one day he was looking forward to adding Grandpa to the list. No matter how you referred to him, one thing was certain, he responded with a smile when he returned your greeting.

He was loyal, devoted and a genuine friend having many relationships that were almost 50 years in length. He loved to laugh and enjoyed spending time just hanging out with his friends. He was a Christian man raised in the church and baptized at an early age. He was a lifelong member of Paint Creek Regular Baptist Church. He believed and trusted his faith. He shared his belief, mostly in song by providing special musical selections at many of the area churches on a regular basis.

Robert D. Gordon touched many lives and has left us with wonderful memories to hold on to and he taught us many lessons along the way. He did all of this expecting nothing in return, but return he did get. His valiant battle was not lost because he was given three years on a journey that the experts said would be much, much less and he did so as he pulled from the strength of his faith, and the love of his family, his friends and his community to continue to be a part of the lives of many and for that we are grateful and will forever be Gordon Strong.

“To those who were a part of my journey, I am grateful for your kindness….. To those who were not so kind, I thank you as well. You taught me to be patient, prevail against the darkness with my light and to stand up not only for myself, but also for those who have little to no voice”. Robert D. Gordon, April 28, 2018

Celebration of Life services will be held Saturday, September 29, 2018 at the First Baptist Church in Gallipolis, Ohio with Pastor Christian Scott officiating. The family will receive friends and family beginning at 9:30 a.m. with services immediately following at 12:30 p.m. Interment will be at Pine Street Cemetery with arrangements and services being handled by Waugh-Halley-Wood Funeral Home.

Pallbearers: Nathaniel Gordon, Christopher Gordon, Matthew Gordon, Aaron Saunders, Bryson Adkins, and Andy Howard.

Honorary Pallbearers: Keith Wilson, John Dixon, David Sommerville, Paul “PJ” Gauze, Daniel Brown, David Robinson, Terence Hopkins, Dan Eplin and Andrew Carter.

In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution in Bobby’s honor to Gallia County Emancipation Committee or the Ohio Chautauqua - Gallipolis.

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