Lucius “Bob” Gordon, whose relationship with Rochester Institute of Technology spanned seven decades, passed away April 28. Mr. Gordon, the major benefactor of the Gordon Field House and Activities Center along with his late wife, Marie “Tony” Gordon, was 95.
The RIT flag will be lowered to half staff on May 3, the day of Mr. Gordon’s memorial service. It is a fitting tribute, says RIT President Bill Destler, as thousands will visit the RIT campus to enjoy the innovation and creativity festival, Imagine RIT.
“On Saturday, the Gordon Field House and Activities Center will be full of activity and full of life,” said Destler. “This is exactly what Bob intended when he shared a tremendous vision with RIT and made the field house a reality in 2004.”
Mr. Gordon’s devotion to RIT was evident in both his service as a member of the Board of Trustees, starting in 1975, and his generosity to many RIT projects. For Mr. Gordon, the relationship began in 1937 during the Great Depression.
Born in Brockport in 1912, Gordon was the son of Fred Gordon Sr., who was a member of a pioneer Brockport family. Mr. Gordon graduated from Phillips Andover Academy and then earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at Yale University. After college, he did research work for Eastman Kodak Co. by testing a new film in Africa.
In 1937, Gordon joined his brother, Fred, to lead the Mixing Equipment Co., also known as MIXCO. Fred Gordon, who pre-deceased his brother, was a longtime trustee of both Mechanics Institute and RIT. The Gordons reached out to Mechanics Institute, RIT’s forerunner, to provide machinists, lab technicians, chemists and co-op students. Like many Rochester industries at the time, the Gordons’ company played a vital role during World War II. The company, with the help of Mechanics Institute, improved aviation fuel for the British and American Air Forces.
The mixing company remained prosperous after the war and so did its relationship with Mechanics Institute, which officially became RIT in 1944. Gordon, who retired as MIXCO chairman of the board, continued his affiliation with RIT into the 21st century. His gift to the Student Life Center funded the Marie and Lucius R. Gordon administrative wing; the crew team’s “Bob Gordon Shell” is due to his generosity; and the Lucius Gordon Drive at the RIT Business and Technology Park recognizes his longstanding advocacy of the development of RIT’s land assets. As an RIT trustee, Gordon was involved in a number of committees. He held the office of honorary vice chairman. In 1999, RIT conferred an honorary doctorate of humane letters in recognition of his professional success and contributions to RIT.
Yet by 2002, Gordon still sensed one piece of student life was missing—a field house. The dream became a reality with a $25 million building that has become the focal point of the campus.
“It has been a great experience to have been a small part in this exciting venture,” Gordon told the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Field House in 2002. “The field house will become a magnet for students, faculty and staff. It will be a great addition to RIT and the community.”
The family is making arrangements for a memorial service and a memorial fund. Details will be available later in the week.