Memorial Tributes to Andy
|A great man has left the earth in shabby clothing: Andy Gordon,
musician and scientist, millionaire and pauper, master builder and
clown; designer and webmaster, land developer, importer of gems,
photographer, and dealer in antiquities. He was both a teacher and a student
of philosophy, astronomy, geology, paleontology, and high
energy particle physicist; a high school drop-out and a genius, the
man nobody ever hated and everybody always trusted: an impossible combination;
the rarest kind of person, not afraid of death but even more rare, not
afraid of life.
Unlike most people, he never did a thing to try to fit in or be accepted or even seen--he was just naturally kind and caring and at home on this troubled planet. More important perhaps, he never brought judgment to others either! Caring neither about looks nor status, he was able to be entirely present to each moment. Andy loved life, he loved his life especially, and he hoped for everyone else to find a way to make life full of joy. Being miserable was not tolerable, because life's magic and majesty were too extraordinary to miss.
Andy read Siddhartha no fewer than a dozen times: not because he forgot its message, rather because he knew it was true. He studied Ramana Maharshi, lived on a kibbutz, was a beloved of Ram Das and Ma Jaya, and suffered many losses. His album of spiritual songs (Journey Inward) proves his intentional mastery in matters spiritual, his album of love songs (The Dance of Life) explains everything we need to know about gratefulness, honesty, and the appreciation of beauty. And his album with renowned violinist Brian Silber called "Now's the Time" brings us right up to date with the preciousness of every fleeting moment.
By attending to the qualities that Andy mastered and taught by
example, we could have more laughter and joy, and bring into the world
more of his wonderful traits.
Andy was, at last, a master of happiness. He said to a beloved that
it was finally possible to remain in happiness even in deep pain, and
it was the next day that he died.
|A personal tribute to Andy Gordon
Many on St. John had heard of Andy Gordon. Fewer had the honor of meeting him, and even fewer, the privilege of knowing him. When told of his passing on Sunday, May 20th, I felt a profound sense of loss. Many others did as well. If, throughout each of our lives, we find just one, or perhaps two best friends and trusted confidantes, we are indeed fortunate. Andy and I were best of friends.
It was spring, 1979, when I first met Andy. Actually, it was his voice that I heard before we officially met. I had just arrived in St. John to play music, living in an A frame in the woods, where Mongoose Junction now sits. Late one evening as I tried to sleep, I heard this most remarkable voice resounding through the trees. Exhausted, yet captivated, I lay awake, listening, truly mesmerized by this strong, melodic and piercing voice. In the morning, my first task was to find out where this voice came from. It was the Lobster Hut. Owner Captain Bob told me where I could find Andy, the man with this most impressive voice I heard in the night.
The rest is history, as they say. Just two days later, Andy and I, with his guitar and my violin in tow, found ourselves hitch hiking down the north shore road, on our way to Maho Bay to play our first performance together. Our only "rehearsal" time was the few minutes in between rides, as we made our way along the road slowly. He and I never forgot that first chance to play together. Several years later, he ventured to Baltimore to join me for 3 months to record and complete our first album together---"The Dance of Life." The memory we shared of that joyful time was one filled with abundant laughter. Our fourth musical venture together, "Heart to Heart", was nearly completed when Andy suddenly passed away. Each of these projects celebrate the talent, the diversity, the brilliance, the deep thinker, the scientist, the romantic, the kindest soul, the funny man, the giver that was---that IS Andy.
Two beautiful tributes have recently been published honoring the life and the man, Andy Gordon. They captured his spirit both accurately, and eloquently.
Andy taught me much in the several years I lived with him, and his adoring wife, Dorie, in a most remarkable Dinasaur House he built here on St. John. No wonder why visitors over the years, always warmly welcomed, found it difficult to leave his home, as it was truly a most unique creation---one he built virtually with his own hands, spanning 14 years. We laughed knowing that not one corner was square. Yet, no wonder that it all fit together so perfectly well.
Andy taught me so much over the many years I knew him-----of the many beautiful attributes he possessed, his most prominent one was the one for which I will always remember Andy Gordon----his most simple gift of living fully in the moment. For this pragmatic soul, there was no looking back. There was only the present, and Andy, by his actions and his thoughts, taught that to all he touched. I am most grateful for the music he composed and leaves as his precious legacy.
It took most of Andy's life to find his truest of loves----Dorie. The two of them were living examples of love in its purest form. Andy did confide in me that his greatest wish was to simply have more years to spend with Dorie---that, more than anything else. I know--we all know---that Andy is in a very beautiful place now, free of pain that he did suffer with for so long, yet never complained of. He is simply smiling down, sending out his abundant goodness and love to each one of us, and sending out his message----live for NOW---it is truly all we have.
Michael Beason (with editing by Dorie)
|Andy Gordon, resident of St. John for over 27 years, died in his sleep
Sunday morning, May 20, 2007. He was 53 years old, born in the Bronx,
New York, on July 1, 1953. He is survived by his wife, Dorie Atchison,
his father, Henry Gordon, his brothers Paul and Jeff Gordon, his nephew,
Ricky Gordon, and his huge extended family that reaches deep into St.
John, and stretches worldwide.
He died of lymphoma, a few days after receiving the diagnosis, so this was unexpected and a shock to those he loved. He had been experiencing pain and other symptoms for about 5 months, but always kept his positive outlook, and his ever-present sense of humor.
He also had Myasthenia Gravis for about 8 years, a neuromuscular disease that affects the voluntary muscle control, but he had learned to live with this, spending most of his time at his wonderful house, and happily sitting by his Koi pond with his wife Dorie. Throughout all this he maintained his courage, his compassion for others, his love of life and a heart full of happiness.
He was a musician, a gifted guitarist, singer and songwriter. He wrote over thirty songs on topics ranging from purely human themes, such as love and spiritual searching, to songs about the nature of light, and the vastness of the universe.
He played in a number of local bands, and was a founding member of the St. John Iguanas, a band that is still playing today.
He was far too intelligent to waste his time in high school or college, choosing instead to study on his own those things that he found interesting.
He delved into religious study, reading and practicing meditation and chanting, learning from all the world's religions, but joining none.
Born Jewish, he worked for a time on a kibbutz in Israel. He also studied
texts from Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity, absorbing and
Then, still on his own, he turned his keen intelligence and vast curiosity
to science, studying archeology, paleontology, astronomy, astrophysics,
Occasionally he'd get a letter from some outstanding expert, admitting that they had an opinion, but no real proof. That is really pushing a scientist, with cutting edge thinking.
As an amateur astronomer, he took beautiful photos of comets, distant galaxies, and once spotted a supernova and reported it, only to discover that an astronomer in Australia beat him to it by a day.
He was partners in several small businesses on St. John, including the original Luscious Licks, an ice cream/dessert/vegetarian restaurant, the original Kaleidoscope Video, where he sold rocks, fossils, minerals and meteorites, and finally joined forces with Jean Vance to create St. John Links.com, a website well worth visiting, even for seasoned locals. Together with it's sister site, St John Tour.com, is a fun place, with tons of incredible photos, and an ongoing enterprise, despite his death.
In addition to all of this, he somehow found time to build one of the
most unbelievable homes in the world. He spent three years digging the
foundation by hand, because the slope was too steep. Then he used the
stone he dug out to create the "Dinosaur House". Overlooking
Calabash Boom and all of Coral Bay, it is a stone house incorporating
native stone with semiprecious stones, fossils, dinosaur bones, crystals
and fluorescent rocks, as well as seashells.
He will be deeply and sorely missed. His influence on our community
was immense, even though for the last ten years he rarely left his house.
He’s touched so many hearts and lives. That is a measure of personal
Dorie - spoken at the Gathering June 10th
First I would like to take a moment to thank all of you who have helped to bring this ceremony celebration of Andy’s Life together - I want to give special thanks to Jean, Carol, and Cid for coordinating all of this, because without them this day would not be what it now is. Jean has been my rock, and my backbone, and without her, I would not have survived these days. And also special thanks to my son Jam, who arrived the very next day and has allowed the house to continue to be filled with love. I could not have made it without him either. And I want to give thanks to Michael for coordinating all the wonderful music. And I want to thank all the rest of you who have so generously offered your services, support, and love in every and so many ways; I have been overwhelmed by all the love and support that is here, and for you all I am grateful.
I would like also to share a few words that I believe Andy would want to share with you. He would have wanted to tell you that he cherished the love and friendship he shared with each of you. I know that he had so much love for every one of you here today, and many that were unable to make it here for this memorial celebration of Andy's life. Andy would have said, Do not be Sad on this day, but be Happy, and if you have sadness in your heart, let it be transformed into an act of giving and of love. Because my Andy was the most giving person I have ever known, putting everyone else first before himself - wishing happiness and love for every soul, he was Truly a generous man.
In Honor of his Life, I now pledge to open my heart to be a more giving soul myself, and incorporate a little more selflessness in every action I take. He was so kind, and so wise, acknowledging the importance of simplicity and happiness above material wealth. Not that he belittled wealth, he just recognized that Love and Happiness were the truest things worthy of striving for. The wealth of his heart was so Great, so Immense. We have lost a mighty soul, a humble and beautiful soul from this planet; and my wish is that the love that Andy inspired in us be infused in our hearts so that we could carry on in life with a little more of that gift of giving and loving in our own hearts that was so much a part of Andy. Andy so believed in happiness, always finding the good in every situation, grateful to the very last day for all that he did have and love.
My Dearest Andy and I shared such a great love - Blessed from the start by Grace and Happiness. Our three years we shared were short, but oh, so filled with love that I cannot express in words how he has opened my heart and allowed me to grow in my being, and caused a great strengthening in my soul. For my Andy - Our Andy - I will be forever grateful. During these three years we were together 24/7, and honestly, I do not believe I have ever seen him irritable, let alone angry. I don’t think I ever even saw him frown. Andy always displayed an incredible patience, empathy, understanding, and love that surpassed any I have ever known. With Andy, I was truly free to be totally myself, unveil my secret inner darknesses, and he was still right there completely loving me. So Great was his love and understanding! His curiosity and inquisitiveness to understand and learn about the natural world was great, & his love of Nature equaled my own. His desire to explore science and all the possibilities known and unknown, was keen, bright, and alive; and together we learned more every day. We loved each other’s company in this journey of learning. In every hour of every day Andy and I shared such abundant laughter, and my heart is blessed with the memories of the sound. I will miss Andy more than I can ever say.
God Bless you All, and may Grace wash away any sadness and leave your hearts clean to love some more. My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you.
spoken at the Memorial
The man I am writing about is not famous. It may be that he never will be. It may be that when his life at last comes to an end, he will leave no more trace of his sojourn on earth than a stone thrown into a river leaves on the surface of the water. But, it may be the way of life that he has chosen for himself and the peculiar strength and sweetness of his character, may have an evergrowing influence over his fellow men, so that, long after his death perhaps, it may be realized that there lived in this age a very remarkable creature.
W. Somerset Maugham, "The Razor's Edge"
My friend Ann Koenig
(in the states)
Andy's welcoming voice is remembered fondly. Always an invitation to come visit, every phone call. Although I had not gotten the pleasure of meeting Andy, his warm soft toned voice on the phone made me feel as though we had known each other and were friends as long as I've known Dorie (my wonderful girlfriend) of 9 years. Dorie and I lived in Bethesda, MD. We have become close friends throughout the years. After the success story of Andy and Dorie, which I followed closely, they gave me the strength to go online and meet my boyfriend of 2 years now through another dating service. The music they sent me on the CD is very soothing and relaxing and reminds me of how calm and peaceful it must be in St. John and to live so near the water. I feel so blessed to have just known Andy via phone conversations. He was always so pleasant and made me feel quite comfortable that Dorie was/is being well taken care of.
In a letter from Allison
to Jean and Dorie
Dear Jean and Dorie,
Your heart has been stretched by all of this. It is said that the stretching of ourselves, our hearts, our tenacity to places where we didn't think we could stretch any more is what expands our soul so that more light can shine there than ever before. It strengthens our core and awakens us to our personal knowing and connection with Spirit, a never ending Source of real peace. We remember the serenity and Truth of knowing who we really are, as spiritual beings on a physical plane, always learning, always expanding in a quantum physics sort of way....whether we want to or not.
Nothing brings this home to us more clearly than being in the presence of one who is making their transition. Ram Dass calls it "the No Bullshit Place", a time when only what really matters is before us and our choice to accept it "as is" and allow ourselves to be real in its presence is one of the greatest life lessons, here death teaches us about life. Andy has been our teacher; the free spirit that many wish was their way of life and perception. In many ways, he is an alter ego for us that is part of the love and reverence we have for him.
This is true of his life and now of the death of his physical being.
The gift of having time to reflect on him and our lives is a final
gift: the wonder of life, the transition from his current form to
yet another mysterious form and the opportunity to grow from his experience,
embracing our own lives as we realize our inability to control the
flow of our life experience and to "go with the flow" in
the last of the physical plane's amazing lessons. It is here that
we expand or contract, our soul's journey, as we accept and understand
the final gift he offers us all. We learn from his love and kindness,
the lessons of power, patience,
We have come together on St. John as a spiritual family who share the bond of love for this amazing man as well as the collective experience of grieving, learning, letting go, wondering and acceptance. We know the final shift is impending, we try to brace for it emotionally and spiritually and integrate the last lesson he gives...that of knowing what really matters. On my lips is a prayer for you and for Andy and for all of us who have been blessed by knowing him and in sharing his last gift and lesson to us all.
My prayer is that love still lives forever and forever in us and
that it upholds us through this time; that love and grief and joy
and fear move through us gently.
All my love,