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Unapologetic and loud - he always did it his way

Monday, May 12, 2014

The following is the eulogy delivered by Richard Gordon, nephew of the late Horace Gordon, former sports editor of the Trinidad Guardian. Gordon died on April 27, and was laid to rest following a service at the Tunapuna Methodist Church on May 3.


The legendary Frank Sinatra was the best known for singing the all-too-familiar lyrics:


“And now, the end is here


And so I face the final curtain


My friend, I’ll say it clear


I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain


I’ve lived a life that’s full


I traveled each and every highway 


And more, much more than this, I did it my way”


It should be no surprise that this Sinatra classic was on of Horace’s favourites among the hundreds of records he collected over the years, because–above all else–Horace Gordon always did it his way. 


Even this remembrance of him that I am sharing today is a testament to his unique perspective on life and his singular penchant for storytelling, as many parts of this are taken verbatim from his painstakingly crafted memoir for his beloved brother Lawton, who also passed on earlier this year.


Horace Patrick Gordon was born on March 16, 1933, in the tiny village of California in Central Trinidad. He was the third child of Victor Gordon and Inez Gordon (nee Yallery), who were proud parents to six boys and two girls. Horace was always quick to point out, however that he actually grew up in a household of 12 children, as his mother took in five children whose mother lived and died suddenly in the USA, and they preferred to live with “Miss Inez” instead of their blood family. His brothers are Rudolph, Horace, George, Clebert and Cuthbert (deceased) and his sisters are Myrtle (deceased) and Muriel. His ‘unofficial’ brothers are George, Earl and Trevor Hutton, and sisters Lorna Gilkes (now Cleveland) and Lydia Grey.


Horace often reminisced about his childhood, painting vivid pictures with his words about his youthful days: catching the train to his primary school (Nelson Street Boys RC in Port-of-Spain), playing football with his siblings, enjoying the various fruits that grew in abundance near their home.


Horace’s father, Victor, was a chemist who worked at various sugar estates and it was that work ultimately led the family to move from California to Orange Grove, Tacarigua, where they took up residence in one of the employee’s quarters of “The Beaulieu”-a historic 100–window mansion next to where now sits the Eastern Regional Indoor Sport Complex.


It was here that Horace and the other Gordon brothers learned the rudiments of the games of football and cricket. With eight “brothers” (Gordons and Huttons combined), they only had to find three more players to make up a full eleven-member team. 


After Nelson St Boys’ RC, Horace went on to attend Modern Academy, and then Amow’s Commercial School, where he learned shorthand and typing.


His father died when he was 11 years old, and–in Horace’s own words: “Were it not for the strength and determination of (his mother) Inez, the 12 children would have ended up in the nearby Tacarigua Orphanage (now renamed the St Mary’s Children’s Home).”


Immediately following his schooling, Horace started work at the now-defunct Salvatori as a cash boy, and later went on to work as a checker in construction.


Ultimately, Horace would finally find his life’s purpose when he joined the Chronicle newspaper as a cub reporter.


The Chronicle eventually closed down, leading him to work at the Guardian–a place that would become the site of his journalistic legacy for decades to come.


In addition to his work, he led a vibrant social life, marrying twice over the years and fathering three children. His son Victor (named in honour of Horace’s father) and his daughter Wendy from his first marriage migrated to the United States with their mother after they parted ways. Later on, he had another the son Patrick Horace (this son sharing his first and middle names, but in reverse order).


Horace also was a revered sports figure in his hometown of Tunapuna, playing football for Ebony in the East St George Football League, along with his brothers. He had the honour of representing the East League at the Inter-League competitions for several years.


As if all this was not enough to keep Horace busy, he joined with his brothers and a few friends (the very same Ebony boys) to organise the renowned Gordons’ Fete which he bragged in his later years was “the best fete in the East back in those days.”


His love for entertaining and the art of “feteing” would continue on into the late 1980’s as he would often throw fetes in the yard of his Trincity home, which would attract droves of friends and well-wishers to dance, “lime” and enjoy Horace’s now-legendary “sweet hand” as a cook. Many an evening was spent at 159 Orange Grove Road with smiling faces all round, satisfied mouths full of Horace’s trademark dishes (pelau, oil down, etc), and ultimately the night would always end with a euphoric Horace “beating iron” in time to the calypso records of the day as the DJ spun hit ater hit.


Horace’s prowess as one of the best “iron men” of his day was also well known to those who loved him. Rarely would a j’ouvert morning or a Carnival Tuesday pass without him making the iron percussion instrument sing in a steelband somewhere, be it in Port-of-Spain or (in more recent years), Tunapuna Carnival.


Horace started as a news reporter at the Guardian and progressed to sports writing which allowed him to marry his writing skills with his lifelong love for sport.


He was considered one of the best sport writers of his time–a fact he took great pride in.


His greatest satisfaction was derived when he would scoop his rivals in the other media houses with a big story. He was a quintessential investigative reporter, whose knowledge of libel laws allowed him to tell the story behind the story, which upset many sporting administrators and helped many competitors. He was often threatened with lawsuits, which never materialised.


His coverage of all the major sporting events and tournaments in the western hemisphere allowed him to travel extensively–yet another aspect of his professional life that he never hesitated to proudly point out. 


In addition to the mighty magic of his pen (or more specifically his typewriter), Horace was also beloved by athletes, coaches and others in the sporting world for the sheer flamboyance of his personality and for being the proverbial life of the party.


Even at some sporting events, he would bring out a bottle and spoon (in lieu of his trusty iron), and beat out a sweet rhythm loudly to lift local athletes’ spirits in the midst of a sporting event.


Ultimately he became the Guardian’s Sports Editor–and one of the most fondly respected in the Guardian’s history at that.


Many people either don’t know or simply cannot recall, but Horace Gordon was one of the first winners of the Trinidad and Tobago Sports Hall of Fame award for Sports Writer of the Year.


As a testament to his journalistic legacy, the Guardian printed a final farewell article paying tribute to Horace Gordon. In it, the current Guardian sports editor Valentino Singh described Horace as a very passionate man, who was never afraid to voice his views, adding that “the sporting world has lost another stalwart.”


Anyone that knew Horace Gordon knew that he was strong-willed, unapologetic, and loud–in every sense of the word.


Horace leaves behind three brothers, 19 nieces and nephews, three children, eight grandchildren, and three great grands thus far, to name just a few.


So with all of this said and done it is only fair to end as this remembrance began–with the words of Horace’s favourite Sinatra:


“I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried


I’ve had my fill, my share of losing


And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing


To think I did all that


And may I say, not in a shy way,


Oh no, oh no, not me....


I did it MY WAY”


May his soul rest in eternal peace.


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