Gordon Harper

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Dear family, friends and colleagues,

It is with heavy heart that I write you of Gordon's death yesterday, February 8 (2016), around 6:30 PM. His leukemia took fierce hold of him this past Thursday and quickly ran its course. He was not in pain but continued his labored breathing for life until he could no longer resist.

Geoff, Stu, Elena and I will be planning his memorial service at Seattle First Baptist Church in the coming days and will send you specific information as soon as possible.

Grace, peace, and love, Roxana

Greetings, all --

Gordon's memorial service will be at Seattle First Baptist Church (1111 Harvard Ave., Seattle, WA 98122) on Wednesday, February 17, at 11 AM. Although parking is available on- and off-street, be aware that it is in the middle of a work week; carpooling is encouraged!

A celebrative lunch for all will follow in the Fellowship Hall on the lower floor of the church, where there will also be opportunities to share stories of Gordon with each other.

Should you wish to make a donation in his memory, Gordon requested in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to either of the following organizations:

1) ICA Archives Project, 4750 Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60640


2) The Romney Fund, Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122.

I and all our family have been strengthened and encouraged by all your heartfelt responses -- thank you, so much.

Grace, peace, and love, Roxana

Some of Beret Griffith's pictures:

  • Gordon Harper (eating and drinking) with Steve Harrington (working):
    Gordon and Steve.jpg

  • Gordon Harper Facilitating:
    Gordon facilitating.jpg

  • Street music in front of Greenrise:
    street music.jpg street music audience.jpg

Beret Griffith

In July of 2010, during an ICA-OIKOS event at Oklahoma City University, Gordon spent time recalling some of his journey. Here he is, in his own voice

Gordon Harper on YouTube

Michael Shaw:

What a treasure this is, Jim!

I couldn't help but wonder after watching the 1st clip, that perhaps Gordon pre-deceased Joe Slicker as part of a test run to see if they were going to be able to get visas for the Journey.

Journey on Gordon & Joe.

Peace, Michael Shaw

Jim: WONDERFUL reflection, Michael, I have been sensing some disturbance in the ethereal realms . . .

Jim Wiegel

gordon by linda barnes.jpg

On the occasion of Gordon's passage

We, Rupert and Linda Barnes, lived next to Gordon and Roxana in the early days of the Kemper building in the famous filing cabinet suites. Often, in the evening, after our progeny had been tucked into their respective filing cabinet cubbies, aromatic pipe smoke would waft over the top and between the cracks of the filing cabinets into our neighboring suite. One could hear Gordon rustling through papers or quietly commenting to Roxana about something read in the New York Times. That was my first brief acquaintance with the Harper clan as they were rapidly whisked off to Taiwan and India and only much later were the Barnes and the Harpers to reacquaint through the marriage of Elena Harper and Daudi Barnes.

Over the years we have had the privilege of interacting with Gordon and Roxanna through family gatherings and as grandchildren wove their way into our families. A prodigious mind, ever inquisitive, ever mindful of the uniqueness of the spirit movement, grounded in the Order Ecumenical, ironic to a fault. A father and grandfather of loving objectivity, a colleague and a dear friend. We experience loss at this moment, but we will remember you Gordon in fullness as a warrior for justice and humanity. Thank you for passing our way on this amazing journey.

Linda Barnes

Dear colleagues,

I share in the deep sorrow that all of you must feel with the passage of our dear friend and colleague. I am so glad for having known and worked with him and grateful to him for having alerted us to the fact that he was nearing the end. My condolences to Roxana, his children and other members of his family.

I shall always remember the twinkle in his eye and his style of confronting difficult situations with a humorous comment.


Dharma (Dharmalingam Vinasithamby)

I didn't know Gordon well at all, but he stood out among the throngs in navy blue. Of course there was the pipe and goatee ... but there was something more. As we talked about him over dinner last night, my parents told me Gordon was a scholar of English (literature, I assume), and now I can see how well he fit that part. I can imagine him performing on stage or at the podium, opening young minds to the beauty and genius of Shakespeare. Perhaps in his quest to save the world, he gave up other aspirations (totally guessing here). I will say that in the past few months, as he faced his own death, he posted some of the most eloquent, insightful, beautiful and loving reflections I've ever read on the OE list. I can see him clearly in my mind's eye, head tilted slightly back, a great smile, sweet-smelling pipe ... I'm glad I knew him, if only a little. Sending love and wishes for peace to Roxana, Geoff, Elena & Stuart.

With warmest regards, Shelley Hahn

Gordon's written reflections to his community after he knew of his impending death are among the final expressions of the care he exuded over his whole life's journey.

With gratitude,

Randy Williams

Dear Roxana, Although we did not know you and Gordon well, you were part of the wonderful corporate journey that we all share in. We particularly appreciated the reflections and communications over the last few months. We celebrate with you now, Gordon’s completed life journey.

Grace and Peace,

John and Robyn Hutchinson

“In thy face I see the map of honor, truth and loyalty” Henry VI, Part II.

One could see a loyalty in Gordon that did not waiver, loyalty to family, friends and colleagues, his church, the Order and the Institutes.

Our families were connected in several ways thru the years. Gordon was born and raised in Neenah, WI as was Ellen and Ellen’s dad gave Gordon a job at a Neenah paper mill during summer vacation in college. We lived with the Harpers in Singapore in 78 and 79 and our son Mark attended school at Earlham College with Stuart and Elena. While we lived in California we made an annual trek to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon with the Harpers, the Hockleys and sometimes the Cookinghams. Gordon being the Man of Letters usually lead the reflective conversations and interpretation of Shakespeare and the others plays. (always with clear insight and his wry sense of humor especially eliciting comparisons of the plays to what is going on in 21st century society) I recall several long walks with Gordon there and in Seattle discussing Order history and the NRM. We had the good fortune of visiting with Gordon and Roxana in September after he knew he didn’t have much time. I hope that I can have the same attitude to the completion of my life as Gordon had.

As John Dryden 17th century poet said of Shakespeare, he might have said of Gordon, “He was the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets had the largest and most comprehensive soul.”

rebstocks with gordon.jpg

David and Ellen Rebstock

Linda and I add our condolences to the growing list of fellow travelers with Gordon Harper. Although our paths crossed only at brief junctures through the years, stretching all the way from the Academies of the late 60s to our year with FOOD FOR ALL when Gordon helped facilitate a major turning point for our growing organization, to the connection through the ICA ToP Trainers Network, our memories are clearly of one of those deeply caring souls. We wish a grand celebration of Gordon’s life and much sharing of memories among his family and friends, and Gordon, safe passage! We are not far behind. Peace. M&L

Linda and Milan Hamilton

I was just looking at photos Gordon took of the Maliwada HDTI online, which I partly attended on the Fall of '77, I believe. The group photos were impressive, the external and internal HDTI building a memory of hosting a movement.

Gordon was a facilitator of the best kind. One learns while he stayed in the background.

As was said of Abe Lincoln when he finally ceased breathing from the coma as a consequence of the Ford Theatre shooting: He now joins the ages.

Thanks, Gordon, for being who you are!

Below is an article published in the Saipan Tribune on February 16, 2016.


The name is Gordon Harper, a friend at '79 (Scalia of the Supreme Court in yesterdays column was also '79) who died February 8. Diagnosed with leukemia September, he expected to end his existence within a year. He lasted four months.

This reflection is not about the historic particulars of Gordon, spacetime occupied and roles played. Nor how he affected other people (he did, many), including his supportive wife Roxane who stayed in the background. As a group facilitator, like his colleague Joe Slicker who at 96 finally drew the curtain also this week, he worked with individuals and groups to assist articulate vision, identify contradictions, push practical proposals, and decide on a course of action, after a consensus for a group and cognitive discourse for an individual.

I remember Gordon '77 as a staff member in the HDTI (Human Development Training Institute) in India, Nava Gram Prayas, to create new communities. In the plateau of Maharashtra outside of Aurangabad where the relics of history are carved in the Ellora and Ajanta caves, I journeyed to learn of their construct only to find out that whatever they had on their plates emerged collegially from heads butting against each other around a table, that conceptually, I was already on the ground with the methodology and material.

Gordon took the four-year BA program of his academic background and constructed University 13, a 13-week design. A movement waited to be triggered in India, and we had a generic construct ready to be filled with flesh and blood. The construct got transformed into the HDTI. In the same fashion, I returned to the Philippines with the construct to "just do it".

I did, on Mactan Island among in Sudtonggan village, with the Dick and Linda Alton family and resident staff. Gordon assisted the HDP, a Human Development Project already on the ground with the language of the new glocality for participants. Success in numerical achievement, or awards from the Rotary Club, or recognition from the Chamber of Commerce, was not the agenda. In Maliwada onward, as far as career went, I no longer had any. I learned to just go do whatever I knew needed to be done, to ignore the judgment, critique, and expectation of society and history, but work in and through them.

We called it HDTS, a school targeting 24 villages in Mactan, built a training school in Sudtonggan and invited villages around Langub HDP north of Davao City in Mindanao, by a geo-thermal plant in Camarines Sur, and oil drilling in Palawan.

I told time by watching Gordon mix his 5-pm gin-and-tonic, sniffing the waft of a cherry smelling pipe as he lit up in the afternoon. A Baptist minister, I never understood how he could get away with his habits (I was an ordained Methodist cleric) until I realized that not all Baptists were created equal! Nor Methodists for that matter! Gordon was a pedagogue par excellence. I sat under the smell of his smokes while he kept his gin-tonic routine to himself without encouraging others to join him.

Since Gordon announced his leukemia (with Scalia and Slicker), I reflected about the facticity of my aging. At 70, I turned into a "clutch", dropping things on the floor, finding it difficult to get back up again. The leg calves cramp at night; I make a restroom run several times before sunrise. Brain cells freeze on recall.

I taught SVES six graders in the previous decade; recognize former students but don't remember names. Many staff offices in the Community College where I go to arrange to teach a few courses for the next term. Familiar but older face behind a desk invariably greets me, smiling like it was only yesterday when they came to Elementary school.

I get into the car to drive to the store, and when I get there, I forgot what it was that I drove there for. I connect to the Internet and do not remember what email I needed to send. I am busy at my dwelling everyday, with many indications of things that got started but nothing accomplished at the end of the day.

I picture Gordon nodding his head on all of these, raising a twitch-like lift on one side of his mouth, finger his goatee without letting on that he probably went through this part of aging in the last ten years. Like Gandhi, he had playfulness about him on life's serious matters.

We won't go into "eternity" as I don't think Gordon delved into that much. One of my students last year asked, "Are you an atheist?" after my spiel on the "here-and-now"; another responded: "You've not been listening. He just wants everyone to know he is totally responsible for the 86 years of his existence."

I imagine how Gordon spent his last moments. He grimaced at the terminus, welcomed the friend. The end cometh, it says. Gordon lived his life. The review of its fullness is finished, outrospection done, he introspects. With a beatific smile plastered on his face, he dies his death. As the old metaphor exuded: Glory, Hallelujah, praise be! To Scalia, Slicker, and Gordon.

Jaime R Vergara

I remember Gordon as one who was his own man with a calmness of spirit and an erudite demeanor ready to tackle a moral contradiction with alacrity. To Gordon's family, may the stars shine a bit brighter for you all as they welcome him into their heavenly realm.

Deepest condolences,

Dawn Collins Denver, Colorado

Dear Roxanna, family and community

Llike so many others, we are with you in spirit, especially in gratitude for Gordon's lucid courage. It was an extra blessing for all of us that he became so insightful and eloquent when he had learnt that these really were the last days of his life. In reacting in that way, he put all our discoveries and adventures in their true perspective.

Warmest good wishes, i.e. grace and peace, Desmond and Ann Avery

Topic revision: r7 - 08 Mar 2016, TimWegner
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