Dr. Bobby Will Gordon, age 91, of Asheboro, died on Friday, November 18, 2022 at his home after a prolonged bout with cancer.
Bob was born on Christmas Day 1930 in Thomasville, North Carolina. His mother Mary (Chisholm) Gordon gave birth to him in a small company owned mill house near the Finch Furniture factory where his father, Coy Gordon, worked. Raised as a child in the Great Depression and World War II, Bob was close to his parents, sister Erlene, and both sets of grandparents. His family tree had deep roots in Davidson and Randolph Counties. The Gordons and Chisholms impressed upon Bob the values of thrift, education, fairness, and hard work.
Bob attended public schools, graduating from Fairgrove High School in 1948 where he was a standout basketball player. Turning down a scholarship to play basketball at Wingate College, Bob instead married his high school sweetheart Joyce Sloop in June 1950. An enlistment in the United States Coast Guard soon thereafter landed the couple in Elizabeth City, North Carolina where Bob completed his training and served as a radioman for search and rescue aircraft. Returning to Thomasville in 1955 after his service was complete, Bob utilized his electronics expertise to open a TV and appliance repair business with his friends and co-managers Grady Berrier and Herman Overcash.
With two young sons and a burgeoning business, Bob reconsidered his career prospects as an entrepreneur and made the fateful decision, at age 32, to go back to school and earn his college degree. Starting with night school at High Point College, he was able to eventually trade his stake in Fairgrove TV and Appliance for a position as a history teacher at East Davidson High School where he also took on coaching duties for football, baseball, and basketball. Later, while still working full-time as a teacher, Bob earned a master’s degree in education administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
In 1970, Bob and Joyce moved to Alamance County so Bob could become the principal at South Mebane Elementary. He held several important administrative positions in the next decade for Alamance County Schools. While opening Southern Alamance Middle School as the school’s first principal, Bob also entered the doctoral program in Education Administration at Duke University. Mercifully, this program allowed him to complete most of his coursework in the summers. It is noteworthy that his two sons would also enter college during this period- his oldest son, Skip was attending North Carolina State University while Rod was working towards a degree from UNC Chapel Hill. The mid-to-late 1970s would be one of the most challenging and rewarding times of Bob’s life. A lifelong Blue Devil fan, Bob proudly earned his doctorate in the spring of 1977. That season’s achievement was bittersweet however because it was paired with news of a cancer diagnosis for his wife. Joyce braved breast cancer for months before passing away in the summer of 1978.
After Joyce's death, Bob left the Piedmont of North Carolina for a return to Elizabeth City to take over as the school superintendent for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank School System. It was also here that he began his “second life” as he fondly referred to it. He met Vickie Cahoon, a single working mother and recent divorcee, and fell in love with both her and her three-year-old son Victor. Bob and Vickie’s new family would soon welcome a daughter, Lacey, and eventual moves to other superintendencies in the state-Vance County in 1984 and Asheboro City Schools in 1987.
Bob’s 35 years in education were marked with many achievements for which he is extremely proud. The 12 years he spent at the helm of Asheboro City Schools is undoubtedly the tenure that gave him the most rewarding success. Asheboro High School’s conversion to a block-scheduling format in 1992 was the first program of its kind in North Carolina and only the third in the country. An unwavering commitment to facilities improvement was another signature of his time as superintendent. Almost every school in the system was renovated or physically improved during his career in Asheboro. As a final act before retiring in June 2000, Bob was honored to hand a high school diploma to his daughter as she walked across the graduation stage at Lee J. Stone stadium.
Bob was so much more than a school administrator. To those who knew and loved him, he will be remembered as a sensitive, kind, and generous person who worked tirelessly at whatever task was set in front of him. The list of everything he did for his family and friends would eclipse his impressive professional curriculum vitae. He was always the one to call if you needed advice or a recommendation, be it a research paper, job prospect, or home improvement project. His honesty, humility, and service to family were virtues that seemed to come from another era. To quote his oldest son Skip, “He was and will remain to be the Gordon family’s North Star.”
In addition to Bob's parents, he is preceded in death by his first wife, Joyce Sloop Gordon; and sister, Erlene Gordon Hill.
He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Vickie; sons, Bobby W. (Nga Bui) Gordon Jr., Rodney (Dennis Richardson) Gordon, Victor (Kelly Corcoran) Gordon, and daughter Lacey Gordon (Ed) Somech; eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
The family will receive friends on Friday, November 25, 2022 from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at Pugh Funeral Home, 437 Sunset Ave., Asheboro. A memorial graveside service will be held on Saturday, November 26, 2022 at 11:00 am at Holly Hill Memorial Park Cemetery, 401 W. Holly Hill Rd., Thomasville, NC 27360.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to the Asheboro City Schools Education Foundation, a charitable organization founded by Dr. Gordon during his tenure at Asheboro City Schools to provide college scholarships to seniors at Asheboro High School. Checks can be mailed to: Asheboro City Schools Education Foundation, PO box 1103, Asheboro, NC 27204 or Hospice of Randolph, 416 Vision Drive, Asheboro, NC 27203.