Mike Gordon spoke his mind while serving on the Hartwell city council, but was also always willing to listen.
That is how Gordon will be remembered by former city manager David Aldrich and friends after Gordon died of natural causes at his home in Hartwell on Friday, June 26. Gordon was 75 and had been dealing with recent health issues.
Gordon served on the city council from 2006 to 2010 and did not run again for a council seat after an unsuccessful bid for Mayor in 2009. Aldrich started as city manager in March of 2006 and at first did not necessarily see eye to eye with Gordon on some issues.
It didn’t take long, however, for the pair to develop a close friendship.
“Sometimes he and I agreed on items, and other times we did not. We could disagree without being disagreeable,” Aldrich said. “He always had his point of view about things, and he was always able to articulate that, but he was also willing to listen to other points of view.”
Aldrich remembers Gordon as an outspoken advocate for the city who passionately wanted to see Hartwell thrive. Gordon was especially active in shining a positive light on city employees and ensuring their requests and needs were met.
Gordon worked on several initiatives during his time in office, but the one Aldrich remembers best was when he successfully led a charge to make Good Friday a day off for city employees.
“I can tell you, he did his homework,” Aldrich said. “Mike was a very big defender of city employees.”
As recently as last month, Gordon, a long-time member of the Hartwell Rotary Club, organized a program through which Rotarians donated more than $1,200 to purchase gift cards from local restaurants to give to city and Hart County employees who he said had been working tirelessly through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Current city manager Jon Herschell said it was a kind gesture that was well received by city employees.
“It was really special,” Herschell said. “He wanted to show them he cared and also to support local businesses.”
As a Rotarian, Gordon spearheaded many community initiatives, including donating to and helping plan the construction of a new Americans-with-Disabilities-Act-compliant playground at the Hart County Recreation Department park on Elberton Highway.
In 2003, Gordon founded the Loch Hartwell Highland Games, which were held in Hart County until 2008.
“He was very proud of his Scottish heritage,” Aldrich said.
“We lost a good person, a good man, but I lost a good friend,” Aldrich said.
Gordon's wife, Joann, said Wednesday that she and Mike both came from military families that moved often.
"I am so thankful he was able to make Hartwell his hometown," she said.
Gordon was born April 15, 1945 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He owned and operated Red Clay Marketing until his retirement and was a member of the Rotary Club and Hartwell First United Methodist Church.
He was a frequent author of cleverly written letters to the editor in The Sun and was sometimes a co-host of Back Talk Live on HTC Cable’s Channel 3.
Gordon is survived by his wife, Joann Kensler Gordon, two sons and their families; Michael and Sheri Gordon and their children Ayla, Dylan Aiden and Logan, of Elberton; and William and Gail Gordon and their children, Hunter and Greer Ann, of Sandy Springs. He is also survived by one sister Patricia Lynn Gordon and her children, Trisha Williams and Erin Gordon, all of Taylors, S.C.
In honor of Gordon’s memory and his love for the city of Hartwell, Gordon’s family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Hartwell Police Department or Hartwell Fire Department at 456 E. Howell, St., in Hartwell.
A celebration-of-life service will be held at a later date.