Jim was born in 1934 to James F. and Edrie Gordon in McLaughlin, S.D. The family relocated to the Ellensburg, Wash. area in 1943 where Jim attended area schools, graduating in 1952 from Ellensburg High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served for 4 years, which included time in Honolulu, Hawaii. He returned to Washington State and attended Gonzaga University where he met and later married Betty Carpenter. Both Jim and Betty graduated from Gonzaga with Jim receiving his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1960.
After graduation, Jim worked for several engineering firms in Glendale, Calif. and Moses Lake, Wash. The family relocated to Missoula in 1965 when Jim accepted a position at the University of Montana Physical Maintenance Plant. Jim worked for the University for over 10 years and was involved in many facility improvement projects. In the mid-1970s he ventured into several business initiatives, eventually forming his own engineering firm in conjunction with his partner Raymond Prill later becoming known as Gordon-Prill Engineering.
Jim’s involvement in Gordon-Prill resulted in successful relationships with governmental contract agencies with the firm expanding to include multiple offices with one in the San Francisco Bay area. One important project where Jim’s leadership and technical knowledge were vital was the electromagnetic shielding structure built at White Sands Air Base in New Mexico that was part of the overall Space Shuttle program. Over the course of his career, Jim also earned a certification in electrical engineering. Gordon-Prill later merged with Drapes Engineering in 1992 and is now known as GPD, Inc. Jim spoke fondly of and greatly respected his work associates, especially Carl Rummel and Tina Anderson.
Jim officially retired from GPD, Inc. in 1997 and relocated to the Thompson Falls area with his long-time companion, Darlene Williams. Although officially retired, Jim was not known for sitting still or taking it easy and quickly became involved in various building and construction projects in the area, many with his good friend, Bob Taylor.
In addition to hard work, Jim enjoyed people, good conversation, “tinkering” with junk in his garages, golf, dancing, was an avid reader and also loved animals, especially his dogs. The family has fond memories of summers spent with friends Ted and Shirley Johnson at Elbow Lake where Jim rode motorcycles, pulled water-skiers and relaxed. He was also a long-time member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles including serving as a trustee of the organization.
Jim will be greatly missed by his many family and friends. He is survived by his brothers Robert (Norma “Peachie”) and Bill (Roylynn) Gordon of Ellensburg, Wash., sister Sharon Gordon Hash of Kennewick, Wash., Betty Gordon of Missoula, sons James Jr. (Tori) of Missoula, daughter Tammy (Scott) Gordon McElroy of Richmond, Texas, son Mark (Marta) Gordon of Portland, Ore., son Matt Gordon of Seattle and son Michael (Julie) Gordon of Vancouver, Wash. He also is survived by a wide group of grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family would like to thank the staff at the Villages Healthcare Center and St. Patrick’s Dialysis Center in Missoula; and most recently his caregivers, Gail Robinson and Trish Richardson and Clark Fork Valley Hospice.
A memorial service and celebration of Jim's life is planned for early spring.