In Memoriam: Al Gordon, Professor of Fine Arts Emeritus Gordon taught at W&L from 1974 to 2001.
Albert C. “Al” Gordon, professor of fine arts emeritus, died in Lexington, VA on May 30, 2023. He was 89.
Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Gordon’s passion was educational theater. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from Tulane University.
Gordon taught at Armstrong College (now Armstrong University) in Savannah, Georgia and the University of Toledo in Ohio.
He joined the W&L faculty in 1974 as professor of fine arts. At that time, the university’s main stage was the Troubadour Theatre, a small, 19th century building on Main Street. In 1990, Washington and Lee opened the Lenfest Center for the Performing Arts, and Gordon served as the head of the department of fine arts. During his tenure, he directed well over 50 plays and taught courses primarily in theater history and directing. He retired from W&L in 2001.
In addition to being an instructor and director, Gordon was a talented actor, and he used the summer months to appear in summer theaters across the country, including Mill Mountain Theatre, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, The Croswell and the Westport Country Playhouse.
Gordon also generously shared his talents with the local community. In 1978, he formed the Henry Street Playhouse and Stock Company in Lexington. Henry Street Playhouse entertained audiences for 11 years, featuring area talent and offering a mix of period and contemporary plays and musicals.
Gordon stayed active in retirement. His wife, Rose, also retired from Washington and Lee in 2001. Together they enjoyed traveling, gardening and theater going. Gordon also served as president of The English-Speaking Union, was a past member of That Club and the Southeastern Theatre Conference.
He is survived by his wife, Rose; a son, Stephen Gordon and his wife, Heidi; a daughter, Suzannah Vess and her husband, Bobby; a granddaughter, Brook Vess; and a grandson, Jason Vess.
Funeral services will be private. However, the family invites friends to a celebration of life on June 10 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Gordon home, 632 Stonewall Street in Lexington. Memorial gifts can be made in his honor to Connections Plus Healthcare + Hospice or The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
Gordon’s full obituary was published in The News-Gazette.