Cover photo for Gordon Schoewe's Obituary
Gordon Schoewe Profile Photo
1926 Gordon 2014

Gordon Schoewe

July 23, 1926 — February 22, 2014

Gordon Schoewe, popular bon vivant of the Long Beach Peninsula died Sunday, February 23 after a brief illness. His passing leaves a void among several generations of Northwesterners who have enjoyed his hospitality, his humor, and his love of fun for more years than they can remember. Officially named Karl Gordon Schoewe (pronounced Shavy), he was always called Gordon "to distinguish me from my father Karl," he said. He was born July 23, 1926 in LaGrande, Oregon, where his father worked as one of the pioneer air traffic controllers. The family moved numerous times in connection with his father's work, always to small towns with developing airports. By the time he was in fourth grade, they were in in Castle Rock, Washington, where Gordon learned to tap dance and to play several musical instruments. He spent his high school years in Arlington, Oregon, where he played clarinet in a dance band called the Blue Notes organized by his classmate, Doc Severinsen. They played grange dances for $8.00 a night and reunited in 1981 for Arlington's celebration in honor of the famed band leader. At that time Severinsen commented on Gordon's choice to leave music behind after high school: "I knew his talents lay elsewhere when I saw the dancing girl Gordon painted on the bass drum." In December 1949, after a two year stint in the army, Gordon graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science degree in Fine Art - a degree that he proudly called "one of a kind." Not long afterwards, he went to work at Boeing Company as Art Director in their Aero Space Division. Over the next 22 years, there was a code of silence' surrounding many of the projects he worked on and, even after he left the company, he said little about his employment there. For two years Gordon also served as Curator/Director of Seattle's Frye Museum. In that position, he catalogued and photographed the entire permanent collection which had never before been done. In addition he installed gallery shows by local artists, the American Watercolor Society and the Smithsonian Institution. Many years later, he brought that expertise to the Columbia Heritage Museum in Ilwaco as a volunteer curator for several of their exhibitions including the Joe Knowles exhibit in 2007 and the Charles Mulvey exhibit in 2010. Although Gordon retired' to Long Beach with his partner Roy Gustafson in 1972, they were destined to have a number of jobs over the next twenty years. For their first work adventure they bought the fixer-upper Gull Motel but, after realizing that being motel managers wasn't the beach lifestyle they were after, bought the large red house on Tenth & Idaho Streets in Long Beach. They dubbed it "The Manor" and, even before they had finished refurbishing the building and property, they had established themselves as the quintessential hosts of the Peninsula - a position Gordon honed and retained, even after Roy's death in 2005. He gave his last big party shortly before Christmas 2013. Gordon's many jobs during his retirement at the beach' began with five years working at the Bookvendor for owner Val Campiche. He next became the Director of the Pacific County Senior Nutrition Services stepping down from that position after five years to become the program's Fiscal Director and, in 1985, became the first Director of the newly formed Pacific County Health Department. In May 1986 Gordon bought the Bookvendor and was its owner/proprietor until selling it to friends in 1992. Meanwhile, he was active in community and civic affairs. He served for three years on the Ocean Beach School Board, was a member of the Peninsula Lion's Club, serving two terms as secretary/treasurer and served five years on the Grays Harbor Community Action Council representing the Pacific County Commissioners. In the mid-1990s he was President of the Ilwaco Heritage Museum Board and for many years, until his death, had been secretary/treasurer of the Corder Foundation. Somehow in the midst of this busy life, Gordon and Roy not only entertained but managed to do a considerable amount of travelling. They took a cruise through the Panama Canal, went to China, to Sweden and more than once to Hawaii. Now and then they managed to do some snow skiing which they both enjoyed and whenever there was an opportunity to dance, Gordon did. He loved to dance! Gordon kept a "Birthday Book" of dates, not only of birthdays but of anniversaries and other significant events in the lives of his many friends. He sent cards for every occasion - holidays, births, deaths, new jobs, retirement and just for fun. He began every day by writing a note or card to someone he knew and, even when he finally came to terms with a computer and email, insisted on hand writing all personal correspondence. He also was an inveterate scrap-booker. Several years ago, he donated his 88 scrapbooks to the Columbia Heritage Museum and worked with Museum Director Betsy Millard to identify photographs and generally to fill in the blanks' for posterity. When the processing is complete, the scrapbooks will be a part of the Heritage Museum's permanent archive - a valuable resource to researchers and historians. Gordon was a collector of hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments, of books (especially mystery books) and of rabbits of every description and made of every material imaginable. He also collected "all things Oz," including first editions of all the Wizard of Oz books and in a number of foreign languages, Oz Christmas ornaments, masks, dolls, plates, cups, movies and more. Also collectible is Gordon's own artwork, especially his paintings for the Heritage Museum's annual "Six-by-Six" auctions. Gordon's contributions usually featured Ambrose -the-Rabbit, often with a large martini in hand. Although he never admitted it, friends were quite sure that Ambrose was Gordon's whimsical alter-ego and those who have one of the paintings in their possession consider themselves fortunate. Gordon was preceded in death by Roy Gustafson, by his father Karl Gustave Schoewe, his mother Byrdie Boylen Schoewe, his sister Lita Lou Cooper, his nephew Daniel Cooper. A celebration of Gordon's life will be held Saturday, March 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Chinook School Gym according to family spokesperson Karen Pugh. In lieu of flowers, she requests that donations be made in Gordon's name to the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco. Gordon's online guestbook may be signed at Penttila's Chapel by The Sea Long Beach.

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Chinook School Gymnasium

, Chinook, WA 98614

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