Obituary of William Joseph Gordon
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William “Bill” Gordon, a much respected and well-loved teacher and coach, passed away suddenly on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. Born in Cambridge and grew up in Medford, he was one of four children born to Charles and Mary Gordon. He earned his bachelor’s degree in science at Boston State. Upon graduation he joined the National Guard for 6 years and then enrolled at Suffolk University to complete his master's degree. Bill worked for 30 years teaching physics and earth science at Shawsheen Vocational Technical High School. After a very brief retirement, Bill returned to the classroom and spent his last 12 years of teaching at Essex Technical High School before officially retiring at the age of 70. Bill was one of those special teachers who wanted to challenge his students. They knew him to be strict, firm, hard, but consistently fair.
Bill will also be remembered as “Coach Gordon” for countless youth and high school athletes. He coached and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Burlington Youth Hockey Association. He was assistant coach for Shawsheen High School football, baseball, and track. What he was most known for was being the head coach of the Varsity Boys Shawsheen hockey team for 27 years. Just like his teaching style, he wanted his athletes to push themselves to be the best players on and off the ice. “No puck” 5:30 am practices were a hallmark of his coaching style. Bill’s hockey coaching career started at St. Mary’s in Cambridge as assistant and then head coach. He joined Shawsheen Tech’s coaching staff as an assistant under head coach Don Ayer. In 1979, Bill took over the reins and coached until 2006. To his credit, during his 27 years as head coach he had 373 career wins, two sectional championships, two trips to the state finals, and one state championship in 1984. In a Wilmington Town Crier article discussing his retirement it said, “If I was just a hockey coach and that was my only connection to the school, it would be more difficult,” Gordon said. “But because I am a teacher first it is easier. Leaving teaching was the biggest decision that I had to make because I have always thought of myself as a teacher first.” And that focus as a teacher first is a big part of the reason that his players have not only had success on the ice, but off it as well. You are not playing for a Bill Gordon team if you are not giving your best in the classroom as well. “Our kids have always done a good job at keeping focused in the classroom, and having as much success there as they do on the ice,” Gordon said. “When I see alumni come back and they are so successful, more successful than I am, that just shows me what we are trying to accomplish here. It also speaks very highly of a tech school which does not always get the credit it deserves.” Gordon's ability to motivate his players to excel in all aspects of life will undoubtedly be his most lasting and most important legacy. As his ability to do this through generations of athletes.” Bill was a 30 plus year member of the MA State Hockey Coach Association serving various positions and roles including President. He and his 1984 Hockey team were inducted in the first Shawsheen Valley Technical High School Hall of Fame. He was voted Boston Globe Hockey Coach of the Year and inducted into the Massachusetts High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
There was so much more to Bill Gordon the teacher and coach. He was a man of deep Catholic faith. He taught 7th and 8th religious education at St. Eulalia’s Church in Winchester, attended mass daily during lent, always carried a rosary which he prayed daily. He was witty, generous, thoughtful, caring, helpful, and enthusiastic to share his faith with others.
Bill most importantly placed his family first. He met his future wife, Janis Pazzanese, on a bus on a college ski trip to North Conway. They were married in 1972 and settled in Burlington in 1973. He was so proud of his four sons. He was their role model and someone they did not want to disappoint. He was their coach, biggest fan, taught them skate, ski, and how to be men. Bill would spend hours with his sons in the freezing cold working on their backyard rink so it would be perfect the next day for the family and friends. There were vacation homes in Littleton, NH and Smugglers Notch where the family could ski, snowmobile, and simply create lasting family memories. There were summer vacations in Onset spent on the beach, golfing, and sailing. His sailboat, “Jan’s Joy,” was a delight although he was a much better coach than sailor. Bill always looked forward to the annual Cooler Classic men’s golf weekend on Cape Cod where he could spend time laughing and telling stories of the good old days of growing up in north Medford. There were trips to Italy, Alaska, Ireland, Brazil, and Colorado. Some might call Bill a “Legend”, but to his family and friends he was the man they loved and will forever miss.
Bill was the beloved husband of Janis L. (Pazzanese) Gordon. He was the proud and loving father and father-in-law of Matthew Gordon & his wife Trisha of Burlington, Andrew Gordon & his wife Rachel of Denver, CO, Joseph Gordon of Burlington, and William Gordon & his wife Mayza of Burlington. He was the brother of Maureen Mata & her late husband Carl of Medford, Francis Gordon & his wife Anne-Mari of Medford, and Tricia Gordon of Medford & her companion Dennis Skerry. He was the proud and doting grandfather of James, Julia, Olivia, Colette, and Cameron Gordon. He was the brother-in-law of Jean Hodgin of Burlington and the late Albert Hodgin. He was also survived by many nieces, nephews, friends, and his best four-legged friend, Nala.
Visiting hours will be held at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., Burlington on Monday, January 29 from 4-7pm. Funeral from the Sullivan Funeral Home on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 9am, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Margaret Church in St. Veronica Parish, www.stveronicama.org, 111 Winn St., Burlington at 10am. Services will conclude with a burial at Pine Haven Cemetery, Burlington.
For obituary, online guestbook, and video tribute see www.sullivanfuneralhome.net
Edward V. Sullivan
43 Winn Street
Burlington, MA 01803
Ph: (781) 272-0050