Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 10:08
Joan Gordon demanded perfection from herself, and encouraged the same in others.
|File photo. Joan Gordon (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Bowling Green civic leader was known for her keen eye for detail, sharp pencil for corrections, and her trademark brown bangs and bun. When she died on Monday, Gordon left her mark on many institutions in the city, and many people who she served with on volunteer boards.
“I honestly can’t think of anyone who has contributed more to Bowling Green over the last 35 years,” said Bill Culbertson, who served as president of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce in 1994 when Gordon was its executive director. “Bowling Green has lost a treasure.”
Gordon was not a pushover. She was a stickler for detail, and she had a way of letting people know she expected their best effort.
“She raised the bar to a whole other level,” Culbertson said. “She kind of had a unique way of bringing out the most in people.”
Those who served with Gordon quickly learned they couldn’t skate through committee meetings.
“You had to step up your game,” Culbertson said. “You didn’t want to disappoint her.”
But Gordon never asked more of others than she was prepared to give of herself.
“She provided a great deal of guidance and advice to the administrative staff and the board,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging, on which Gordon served as a board member.
The board now faces a strategic planning meeting in October - without Gordon’s steadfast wisdom to help guide them.
“That was Joan’s strength,” Niese said, “helping board and staff work through goals.”
While some board members are satisfied to scratch the surface of an organization, Gordon would have none of that.
“She liked to get into the detail and ask the questions that made people think things through,” Niese said.
And she was always willing to learn.
“She was a good listener,” Niese said. “She was an asset.”
Many groups are mourning the loss, according to Dr. Michelle Grigore, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, who served with Gordon in the Kiwanis.
“She’s just kind of legendary,” Grigore said. “In Kiwanis she was doing the job of three people, right up to the last week. She was an example of selfless service.”
To many women in leadership positions in the city, Gordon served the unofficial role of mentor.
“It was hard for us younger women to keep up with her,” Grigore said. Gordon excelled at keeping historical records of several organizations. “She wouldn’t put it in low gear. She was an epic woman.”
State Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, saw those same strengths in Gordon.
“Joan Gordon was ‘pushy.’ She pushed all of us to work harder to help others and to make our community better. She pushed everyone to give more and to do more, because she did so much herself,” Gardner said. “She didn’t make her mark in elected office, but she was one of the most significant leaders Bowling Green has ever had.”
Wood County Commissioner Jim Carter was also familiar with Gordon’s dedication to any job she took on.
“Joan was one of those people who had Bowling Green at heart,” he said.
He met her 18 years ago when he took office, and quickly learned why she had such a respected reputation.
“She knew everybody and knew everything,” Carter said. “She was the go-to-person for everything. The whole community will miss Joan.”
He also became quickly familiar with her ability to bring out the best in others.
“If you said you were going to do something, you were quietly reminded” of that commitment by Gordon, Carter said.
Those up to the challenge grew to welcome Gordon’s insistence on hard work.
“You always learned more,” Culbertson said.
“She really had a good sense of what makes a good community,” he said. And she focused her efforts on improving those in Bowling Green - everything from schools, business and health care, to higher education and recreation opportunities.
“She was just a tremendous woman,” Grigore said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 September 2013 10:46