Tribute to Bill Gordon

William A. Gordon, born September 30, 1921, passed away early on the morning of April 16, 2011.


William A. Gordon, born September 30, 1921, passed away early on the morning of April 16, 2011. He was born in Chicago, migrated to New Orleans as a young man, fought in World War II and then lived and studied for a period of time in France. Returning to the U.S. at the age of 28, Bill entered a monastery for four years. After realizing that the Dominican mission did not suit him but that he sincerely wanted a spiritual path, he was given a dispensation and returned home. After teaching at Loyola University, Bill joined the Department of English at the University of Kentucky in 1967 where he taught for a number years before retiring.

While on sabbatical, Bill discovered Meditation in Action by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. After studies with Trungpa, Bill began a life of teaching and practicing Dharma. He was co-founder of the Lexington Shambhala Center in 1975, was active there, and also in Halifax. He also served on many international Shambhala Committees. Perhaps what he will be remembered for best, was his continuing enthusiasm, support and presence at Shambhala Cafe. His goal, he said “Is to enter into conversations with anyone who wishes to ask questions, to discuss experience of meditation, or anything else.”

Bill is survived Margi, Bill’s wife of 28 years, his daughter Marie, granddaughter Alana, and his step-sons J.J., Chas, and Asa.


Jose, Bill, Eamon, Peter

I was just a gawky teenager at Naropa in ’74 surrounded by talented young grown-ups. Jose was crush material good looking, impressively into exotic Mayan stuff, whatever that was. Years later I went to Seminary with Bill and I think Eamon, too. More years elapsed. I was at RMDC/SMC during the Harmonic Convergence and Jose was on the radio and we sat around wondering if there could be anything to it or not. In time, I moved to Boston. Peter was a professor at Harvard and a famous composer and I was just a student there but nevertheless he was always so sweet and friendly to me. Time passed (as it is wont to do). I became conscious of my graying hair, bought stronger face creams. Death was still just a nasty rumor. Eamon became my landlord in Oakland and led a dathun at which I was an MI. I was hurt when he told me I squirmed too much on the umdze seat. I remembered Bill through his interesting intellectual emails on Sangha Talk. Eamon looked the part of the classic salty dog. He was so obviously tender when I spoke to him after Michelle’s death. Jose became a cult phenomena. Peter, another wildly handsome man, was long married to Ellen, then more life happened and I learned that he’d married a woman with the voice of an angel and then he married again after she died. Needless to say, the music lives on. Meanwhile, I’ve passed beyond middle aged and now death seems to loom everywhere.

Thank you to each of these brilliant men who have been such sparkling threads in the tapestry of my life in this mandala.
Barbara Handler


Three Gentlemen

Three gentlemen: now you see them,
now you don’t… left the action leaving
only traces; meetings with remarkable men.

We’ll all go this way…vanish into non-everything…
and when the door clicks behind us, the rest will
go on, forgetting once again it’s all a dream.

-John Tischer



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