Gordon E. Whitlow, 91, passed away on Saturday, November 30, 2019 in Ellensburg. He will be honored in a service at Willamette National Cemetery next spring.
Gordon was born in 1927 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the youngest of ten children born to Clifford & Hertha (Hurd) Whitlow and his family eventually settled in the Oregon City area in 1939. He earned his plumbers license at a young age before serving two tours in the military, first in the Merchant Marines during WWII and later with the United States Air Force during the Korean War.
While serving in the Air Force, Gordon worked in base operations overseas in Scotland and put his tradesman skills to good use. His time with the Air Force ended in a medical discharge. Although never expected to walk again, Gordon persevered and went on to enjoy a long and productive career as a plumber, spanning over 60 years.
Gordon was a man of many hobbies and was well known for his photography. During his time in the Air Force, he toured eleven countries, as well as England and Scotland, taking advantage of the beautiful scenery with his camera. After his retirement from the plumbing trade in 1992, Gordon completed a correspondence course from, and became credentialed by, the New York Institute of Photography. Many have enjoyed displaying his work in their homes over the years.
Gordon also enjoyed music and sang in a gospel quartet named “The Master’s Four”, a group that performed at churches and other venues around the northwest that also often involved loading an organ in the back of his plumbing van that would be used as part of the performance. He always had a drive to help others and volunteered many hours ministering the gospel and music to those in jail. He also thoroughly enjoyed polka dancing and would travel all over the country to participate in polka dance festivals. While in Ellensburg, he also taught his physical therapists how to polka!
Family was also a very important component to Gordon’s daily life. He was involved with his children, whether it was riding horses and rounding up cattle with his daughter, Lori, or learning how to scuba dive at age 65 with his son Kerri. He was also a lifelong teacher who was always interested in helping people learn something new. During his time at Meadow’s Place, you could find Gordon helping the maintenance crew troubleshoot plumbing issues or teaching his caregivers about photography.
Gordon was a longtime member of the Masonic Lodge, first earning his membership at Lodge #1060 in Prestwick, Scotland. He was also an active member of the Lodge in the Portland area, serving in various leadership positions. He will be remembered for his kind heart, his sense of humor and his humble nature of always wanting to serve behind the scenes and not wanting credit for the many amazing things he accomplished during his life.
Gordon is survived by son Kerri Whitlow of Maui, HI; daughter Lori Ballard and her husband Russ Brethower of Ellensburg, WA and daughter Lynnette Nelson of Lewiston, ID; grandchildren Lindsay Severson, Jamie Pierce, Blake Whitlow and Travis Spurgeon; great-grandchildren Amanda, Hannah, Jaxton, Ryenn, Griffen, Paxton and one more on the way. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Molly Kay Whitlow, as well as his parents and nine siblings.
Memorial contributions in Gordon’s honor are suggested to the Parkinson’s Foundation (www.parkinson.org/donate). Steward & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory of Ellensburg has been entrusted with caring for Gordon’s family. Online condolences may be left at www.steward-williams.com
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