Monday, July 11, 2011

Carpe diem (Goodbye, Gordon)

Our dear friend Gordon Morez lived life to the fullest. His story is the kind I aspire to: full of wonder, endless curiosity, adventure, love and laughter. Miss you, Gordon. Santa Barbara summers just won't be the same without you...

Here is the obituary (written by his lovely wife Margaret) that ran in the Santa Barbara News-Press on July 4, Gordon's favorite holiday.

William Gordon Morez was born on October 16, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois to proud parents Leone and Nicholas Morez. He died at his home in Santa Barbara with his wife by his side on June 13, 2011. He loved his 85+ years on this earth and treasured many happy years with family and friends.

As a boy he attended cooking classes in Chicago with his mother. He received his first train, his first model airplane kit and his first set of paints from his father; and his first B.B gun from his beloved grandfather, who also gave him his first haircuts at his barber shop, with Gordon always leaving with a treasured fifty cent piece.

He attended elementary school in Chicago and graduated from Lane Tech High School. His senior year, Air Corps recruiters came to Lane Tech and after passing tests he became an Air Corps Reserve Cadet. He turned 18 in October 1943 and went into the service in November 1943....just 18 years old! 

After basic training in Miami, Florida, he stayed in a very posh hotel with more tests, and then onto Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA, for 5 months of college courses. He then attended flight training and had a memorable snowball fight against older cadets! Further training included aerial gunnery school in Fort Myers, Florida, officers training school, navigation school where he received his lieutenants bars, and bombardier school in Carlsbad, N.M.

After his discharge he attended the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill. where his first son Larry was born. He then moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where his second son Ron was born, and where he successfully demonstrated and sold Wearever Cookware/Cutco Knives and thoroughly enjoyed making meals for young brides-to-be and other groups!

Having had a taste of California during his Air Corps days, California beckoned, and the family moved to Burbank where he became a police officer. After passing the California Highway Patrol tests and training in Sacramento, he escaped the smog and was assigned to Lompoc, CA. He loved the town and he and his two sons enjoyed the freedom the small town offered them.

Realizing he wanted summers free to spend time with his sons, he returned to Urbana, Ill to finish his degree. On his return to California he was sent by the Highway Patrol to Barstow, where he built model airplanes and loved flying them in the open desert. Other assignments followed, including Malibu, a return to Lompoc and finally to Santa Barbara, where he realized his life long dream of becoming a teacher. While still working as a Highway Patrol Officer, he was accepted at UCSB, where he received his teaching credential. He did his student teaching in art at San Marcos High School, where he taught art for 28 years. He thoroughly enjoyed the many colleagues and students whose lives he enriched, and the joy he received from them.

In 1971 a new phase of his life began with the arrival of his first beautiful daughter Tiffany Ann. The family enjoyed watching her grow up, becoming a cheerleader at San Marcos High School and watching her dance in the many Nutcracker Ballet performances at the Arlington Theatre every Christmas season.

In 1989, via friends, he met his wife Margaret. They married in 1993 on the deck of their home, with relatives and friends and his train on the deck railing bringing their wedding rings to the ceremony.
They shared many happy years and adventures together, including their first 2 trips to Monte de Oro, Cambria, numerous trips up Highway One to Ventana, Big Sur, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Monterey, Disneyland, Magic Mountain, and England to visit his cousin James, which included a special trip to Monet's garden in Giverny, France, where he spent the day painting. On a second trip to France to visit cousin James, he painted James' 14th century moated castle, flew with James in his Falcon airplane, Carcassonre, to Italy, and painted his favorite images on canvas. Last but not least, Gordon loved his many trips to Lost Hills and Taft, CA to fly free flight model airplanes, staying at his favorite place "The Topper Motel."

He appreciated and enjoyed artists Monet, Norman Rockwell, Eyrand Earle, Alphonso Mucha, Edgar Payne, Colin Campbell Cooper, Vermeer, Neil Boyle, Thomas Eakins, Sargent, Simbari, Sayora and many other deceased and living artists. There were many highlights in his life with travel to art exhibitions in Chicago-Monet, San Diego-Sayora, Boston-Sargent, National Art Museums in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Ronald Reagan Library, in Santa Barbara the Waterhouse Gallery, Museum of Art, Historical Museum, Natural HistoryMuseum, airshows and museums in San Diego, Palm Springs, Oshkosh, Reno and most beloved of all in Taft and Lost Hills, CA., theatre and music in Solvang, Santa Maria and in Santa Barbara, the Arlington, Granada, Lobero and the Music Academy of the West.

He enjoyed having friends and family for dinner, serving his spaghetti or beef stew and of course conversations on any topic: politics, art, books etc. always sharing conservative/liberal points of views with great glee. The 4th of July was his favorite holiday, with many spent on the back deck with his potato salad, hot dogs and hamburgers; then off to the studio to watch the fireworks!

He loved the earth and skies, his family and friends, his neighbors and especially all their children, games he loved to play with children and adults, always wanting to win, poker, tennis, etc. He loved his deck, his garage, his studio, books, donuts, waffles, Barb's blueberry pie, sugar cookies, Sharon's cakes and brownies and all the hamburger places he found, the many trees he planted and especially the last plantings of strawberries, tomatoes and corn with instructions "remember to water them."

The last 6 years of his life were made especially joyous spending time with his wife and his beautiful granddaughter Samantha, who brought such joy and delight on their many adventures together.
He was a member of the S.B. Arts and Crafts Show, and sold paintings at the Danica House in Santa Barbara, Cabrillo beach on Sundays, art galleries in Carmel, the Cody Gallery in Los Olivos, and his second and last show at Danica/Neuve," Morez, Monet and more," during a downpour of rain which was good because he loved rain! Those of us who possess his paintings will always treasure them.

Many of his friends referred to him as their "Renaissance Man", and that he was. He loved music and would often talk about saving money to buy his first classical records and free flight model airplane kits. Only 16 years old in 1942 at the AMA Nationals in Chicago, his picture with the trophy he won was in the Model Craftsman Magazine:

"Gordon Morez is shown in the center top photo with the Model Craftsman trophy he won for second spot in class B Junior event. Don't blame him for smiling - that's a swell chunk of hardware!"

He often said he was not afraid of death. It was the "process" that he wondered about. The line in the movie "Gladiator" was one that he liked: "DEATH SMILES ON EVERY MAN; ALL A MAN CAN DO IS SMILE BACK."

Among his last instructions to me: "Tell everyone, and he asked me to write it down (ever the instructor) so I wouldn't get it wrong," was "I SAW A LOT TO LAUGH AT, AND HAD A LOT OF FUN." And yes we all know you saw a lot to laugh at, and that you had a lot of fun. So did we. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

Gordon loved to read and learn about everything. He marveled at all advances, cameras, telephones, television, computers, astronomy, and most of all about life. This remembrance of him is from Jennifer and Carlos:" We will remember everything good about him, his endless curiosity, his zest for life, his love of a good story. He gave so much of himself and left so much beauty behind, his is a life to be admired and he will be missed and celebrated".

One of the last books he bought was ironically David McCullough's "The Greater Journey." Gordon, may you now journey among the heavens, the places you always wanted to see and learn about, and to catch "the currents" so your planes can fly over your favorite flying sites of Taft, Lost Hills, Las Vegas and the closest site to your home, More Mesa.

He is survived by his loving wife Margaret, his sons Larry and Ron, Ron's wife Barbra, their son Alex, their daughter Marina, her husband Phil and their daughters Isabella and Leila, his daughter Tiffany, Tiffany's mother Sherry, Tiffany's daughter Samantha, Samantha's father Daniel, his 2 brothers Nick and Larry, and his special "extras" that enriched his life, Steve, Jim, Sue, Sharon, Emma, Diana, and all those he mentored: you know who you are.

A celebration of his life will be held July 17 at 2pm at The Benly Shop, 1020
Cindy Lane, #4, Carpinteria, CA. Please RSVP to if you plan to attend.
Memorial contributions may be to the Music Academy of the West, SB
Symphony or Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care.