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Gilbert Gordon '76

Bios : Greek : Life

My life started on Rock Springs Road where I was born in a one-room log cabin. Well, actually it
was an ugly, brick, ranch style, but I always imagined it as log- makes for a better story. My mother
named our farm, Gordon’s Villa, trying to create an image of Tuscany, but the smell of manure and the
occasional dead cow pressed it hard. My grandfather acquired it during the Depression after its previous
owner killed four people there and went to prison.

I grew up, and at 13 was sent to a small school in Bell Buckle. There I met two old dead men
(Sawney and John), and immediately felt a responsibility that resembled the same one that my father
instilled in me- “Do something!” But more than that- I met Mrs. Crowe (8th grade English), Mr. Charles
Alexander (Algebra), Mr. John Lewis Morgan (Geometry), Mr. Rusty Norvell (Writing), Mrs. Truitt
(Calculus), and, of course, my mentor and father-figure Coach Roy Johnson. They and others were Webb
School, and I carry them with me every day.

I married Ginny Farris whose character paralleled her beauty. I still marvel that she agreed to this
arrangement, and even more so that she agrees to it still. Anyway, we moved to upstate New York and
managed a dairy farm for three years before returning home to live in the Old Home Place, which is a
mile or so from my birth. It was built by my third great-grandfather, and I am the 6th generation there. The
cemetery is right behind our home which makes my death, at least, convenient. We operated the family
dairy for three years until I had the idea of starting a school on our farm. I think this was the only time
Ginny questioned her previous decision.

So, Cedar Hall School was founded in 1991, and we have enjoyed thirty three years of training and
teaching children, especially our own three: Dr. Hannah Gordon (Seattle), Graham (Ashley)
Gordon(Nashville), and Carter Gordon(Chicago). The only reason I was employed for 33 years is because
I am in charge of hiring and firing, and I just couldn’t find the courage to fire myself- we needed the
income. However, Ginny and I have recently decided to close the school in May 2025. The students don’t
get my jokes anymore- actually their parents don’t either, so it’s time.

Webb alumni would have found themselves much at home at this small, rural school: trapping,
“you can have the afternoon”, integrity, honor, character, standing for teachers and guests, poetry
recitations on the front lawn at graduation. One distinguishing difference is that there is no dress code
(You never know when you might dissect a dead farm animal, go wading in the creek, go on an adventure
through the woods, or engage in the disciplinary action of pulling weeds which is far more effective than
demerits). One unique aspect of the school is what we call St. John’s discussions where we debate ideas
with dignity and respect- nothing personal, just ideas- the antithesis of our present culture. It is my
favorite part.

Now, I enjoy writing, which was awakened and fostered in me at Webb and by my mother. Two
years ago I published Ramblings On Rock Springs Road which is simply a memoir about the many heroes
of my life, including many teachers from Webb School. It is the least I can do for them. Actually, it is all I
can do for most of them. Simply put, it is a book about the Nobodies of the world who were the
Everybodies of my life. Today, I write a monthly story which I send out on Ramblings Press.
I’ve been blessed to live a very full life on the same road for 66 years ... just wish I’d been born in
a log cabin.

Gilbert Gordon –
Class of 1976