Cindy O’Brien, who attended Bluefield College in the 1970s, used to sit up front in Professor Will Gordon’s business class. She dated Stanley Bailey, and she used to bring a soft drink to class. Not many people can remember details like that 20, 30, 40 years later, but Professor Gordon could.
He could tell you who played on the BC baseball team in the 1960s, what position they all played, and how the team once lost a game playing in the rain and mud. Not many people take that kind of interest in students. Professor Gordon did because that’s the kind of person he was. He took a special interest in the people he met and the students he taught. In fact, it’s the kind of commitment he gave to teaching at Bluefield College for 42 years until his retirement in 2004. And, it’s the kind of life he lived until his death, November 22, 2017.
Professor Gordon came to Bluefield College in 1962 as an assistant professor of business administration. He was promoted to associate professor of business in 1977 and a full professor of business and commerce in 1983. During his 42-year tenure, he not only made a difference in the lives of hundreds of students through his teaching in the classroom, but also served as chair of the Division of Business, manager of the BC Bookstore, and faculty advisor for the Business Club.
“I am extremely grateful for the positive influence Will Gordon had on my life,” said 1964 BC graduate Troy A. Peery, Jr., president of Peery Enterprises and former chief executive officer of Heilig-Meyers Company. “I am convinced that his motivation helped lead me to the success I have achieved today.”
While teaching, Professor Gordon also earned the school’s Distinguished Faculty Award, and before retirement was granted the distinction of Senior Professor and the honor of being the longest-tenured faculty member in Bluefield College history. Upon retirement, he was named a Professor Emeritus, and shortly after retirement was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree. In addition, thanks to his devotion to students, it has been said that he influenced more lives than any other BC professor.
“I will always remember the time Will showed up in my office with a box of accounting books. He was packing up his office in preparation for retirement and asked me to take his books,” said Ruth Blankenship, vice president for advancement, who has also taught accounting courses for BC’s Department of Business. “He said no one else would appreciate them. The fact that he thought of me and trusted me with some of his treasures meant the world to me.”
Outside of his work on campus, Professor Gordon was a dedicated member and Sunday School teacher for more than 45 years at Trinity United Methodist Church in Bluefield. He also played and coached church and recreational softball for more than three decades. A native of Nebraska and a veteran of the United States Army, Professor Gordon earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial management from Georgia Tech before beginning his teaching career.
“I cannot begin to express my sadness at the passing of Dr. Gordon, one of the finest gentleman I ever encountered in life,” said 1968 BC graduate Tem Marshall, a former member of the BC Board of Trustees. “He was responsible for getting me into Bluefield College and was my advisor, counsel, and supporter. God blessed me with the opportunity to know him.”
In an effort to preserve Professor Gordon’s legacy, Bluefield College has established the Will Gordon Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is designed to provide vital financial aid to BC students who might not otherwise be able to attend college. And once initial gifts to the scholarship fund reach the required level of $10,000, the college will endow the scholarship so that it will pay tribute to Professor Gordon forever.
“Endowed scholarships are designed to provide financial aid for perpetuity,” said BC’s Chris Catron, director of development. “With endowed scholarships at Bluefield College, once the required minimum of $10,000 in gifts (principal) has been raised, the earned income will then be made available annually for scholarships. The principal will remain indefinitely and will continue to grow through earnings and future gifts and will ensure an everlasting tribute to Professor Gordon.”
Donors who contribute to the Gordon Memorial Scholarship will receive investment reports regarding the endowment’s progress and updates on the students receiving the scholarship awards.
“The sooner we meet this goal, the sooner students will be able to receive benefit from this fund,” said Blankenship, “and the memory and legacy of Will Gordon will continue to be kept alive at Bluefield College with our students of today and alumni of tomorrow.”
To give to the Gordon Scholarship and to help preserve the legacy of Professor Gordon by aiding students in his name, visit bluefield.edu/giving or call 276-326-4458.