GVSU community mourns death of George Gordon, philanthropist of education and art

portrait of George Gordon
George Gordon died May 21 at age 96. The Grand Valley University Foundation honored George and Barbara Gordon in 2005 for their outstanding commitment to Grand Valley’s growth and development.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

The Grand Valley community is mourning the death of George Gordon, who coupled his philanthropic passions for education and art throughout West Michigan. Gordon died May 21 at age 96.

Gordon was a valued member of the West Michigan community and made a tremendous impact on Grand Valley. Throughout his life, he and his wife, Barbara, made many contributions to area educational institutions and museums.

Grand Valley has benefited immensely from Gordon’s interests in art. He and Barbara donated a set of works by German-American impressionist painter Mathias J. Alten to the university in 1998, starting the university’s vast collection of Alten’s work. 

To honor their gift, President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers dedicated the George and Barbara Gordon Gallery, on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus, in 2000. The gallery doubled in size through another generous gift from the Gordons in 2008. They also established an arts fellowship at the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, which provides a student a unique learning opportunity each summer.

“George Gordon has had a tremendous impact on the community, Grand Valley State University, and our students. George was instrumental in supporting the university’s vision for making art accessible to all,” said President Philomena V. Mantella.

The Gordons also supported the construction of the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, on the Health Campus. George and Barbara Gordon are members of Grand Valley’s Gillett Society, the DeVos Society, and the Grand Valley Foundation Advisory Cabinet.

“We'll always remember George as a generous philanthropist who had a deep passion for the arts. He was an important part of the Grand Valley University Foundation and we will miss him,” said Karen Loth, vice president for University Development and executive director of the GVU Foundation.

The Grand Valley University Foundation honored the Gordons at the annual Enrichment Dinner in 2005 for their outstanding commitment to Grand Valley’s growth and development.