Benjamin Lawrence Gordon
February 3, 1941-February 17, 2019
Benjamin Lawrence Gordon, loving husband of Suzanne and father of Sarah and Joshua, passed away February 17th after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. A celebration of his life will be held at the Redding Community Center, 37 Lonetown Rd., Redding on Sunday, April 14th at 4pm.
Ben grew up in Roxbury, Massachusetts. His father, Joshua, brought him to Boston Red Sox games at Fenway Park while his mother, Anne Goldberg Gordon, shared with him her love of books and museums. When their mother became ill, Ben and his brother Michael became wards of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service, living in Bradshaw House and with foster families. Years later, Ben wrote a memoir about his experiences called Me, Mike and the Agency.
Ben received a BA in English from the University of Massachusetts in 1962 and then a MA from New York University. After teaching and traveling, he went on to earn a Ph.D. from NYU in American Studies in 1979. Ben was eager for intellectual and artistic engagement and adventure. He was involved in Civil Rights and anti-war demonstrations, backpacked extensively in Europe and Israel, where he spent several months at Kibbutz Ramat HaShofet, and taught English in Ghana. He enjoyed art and classical music, and read and wrote poetry. He brought all of this energy to his teaching and family life.
Ben met the love of his life, Suzanne, when he was 18 and she was 16; he was working as a camp counselor in her hometown and helped repair her bicycle. Ben courted Suzanne when she went to Smith College, and sent her romantic letters with pressed flowers from his travels. They married in 1966 and lived in St. Paul, Minnesota briefly before moving to New York where he went to graduate school and she taught at the New Lincoln School. They then moved to Ridgefield, and Ben began a satisfying career teaching English and History at New Canaan High School. Ben continued to travel extensively with Suzanne, enjoying trips throughout Europe, Central America, and the U.S. and Canada. They took ballroom dancing classes, kayaked throughout New England, and shared a love of music and art, going to New York to museums and the Metropolitan Opera.
When Ben and Suzanne moved to Redding in 1975 he embraced the town, growing a large garden and raising chickens and bees. He coached little league baseball for the Redding Boys and Girls Club, served as a member of the Redding Zoning Commission from 1983 to 2011, and volunteered at the Mark Twain Library. Ben and Suzanne raised their beloved children Joshua and Sarah in Redding, and “Dampy” enjoyed his three granddaughters: Ruthy and Helen Flint and Cate Gordon.
Ben had an irreverent sense of humor, loved his work as a teacher, and encouraged his children to trust themselves. He enjoyed playing with his granddaughters and taking them to playgrounds and the beach. He was fun, thoughtful, and had genuine chutzpah. He will be remembered and sorely missed.
May his memory be a blessing.
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Mark Twain Library
439 Redding RD, Redding CT 06896
Redding Boys and Girls Club
170 Cross Hwy West, Redding CT 06896