A native of Painesville, Gordon earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from BGSU. She was managing editor of The BG News as a senior. At BGSU Honors Day ceremonies, she was honored as the Outstanding Journalism Graduate of 1957. She married Jim Gordon that summer, and they celebrated 56 years of marriage in August.
After living in Elyria and Columbus, the Gordons returned to Bowling Green, where Joan taught English and journalism at the senior high school and advised the Scarlet Parrot student newspaper from 1959-1961.
From the high school she moved on to work first part time as radio-TV editor and then full time as county editor at the Sentinel-Tribune. She enjoyed working with the late editor Paul W. Jones, who hired her, and the other staff members like society editor Minniebelle Conley, sports editor Dean Roach, and reporter Gene Welty.
In 1972, Dr. Duane Tucker hired her as public information director for WBGU-TV, the campus public television station. She was named woman of the year by the Chamber of Commerce in 1975. Recognizing her affection for the city and her love of and talent for organization, in 1984 the Chamber of Commerce lured her away to serve as its executive director, a position she held until she retired in 2000.
In 1983 she chaired the city’s 150th anniversary. That event went so well she was invited back to organize the city’s 175th in 2008. A native of Painesville, she was the Outstanding Female Citizen of the Year in 1975. In 1986, Wood County Commissioners asked her to organize a celebration of the 100th birthday of the Wood County Courthouse.
She served terms on the Wood County Hospital Board, the board of the Wood County District Public Library and many others. She was president of the Bowling Green Woman’s Club and later served as president of the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs. She was president of the Bowling Green League of Women Voters. She used her journalism background to produce newsletters for the Bowling Green and state women’s clubs, Bowling Green Kiwanis Club, and League of Women Voters.
A member of the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club, Gordon served at its president and was its current secretary. Increasing club membership was one of her passions, and during her time with the club, its membership surged to more than 100.
When she was chair of the Wood County Committee on Aging, Gordon worked closely with the Wood County Commissioners, state Rep. Randy Gardner and BGSU to arrange the $500,000 necessary to fund construction of the WCCOA’s kitchen on East Gypsy Lane Road. Dedicated in 2006, the kitchen now prepares meals for seniors at home and at sites in Bowling Green, Rossford, Pemberville, Wayne and North Baltimore. She was on the board for more than 30 years
She was named the BG Chamber’s Woman of the year in 1975 and in 2010 she was inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in Columbus.
Gordon had a passion for scholarships, badgering the members of her clubs and organizations to fund new scholarships or enhance current ones. With camera in hand, she attended the annual scholarship ceremony at Bowling Green Senior High School to photograph the recipients of awards from her clubs and their parents. She ran the photos in the newsletters she produced.
In addition to all the other scholarships she worked for, Jim and Joan Gordon have supported BGSU journalism students for years via the Gordon Scholarship Fund.
Joan is survived by her husband Jim; son Kevin, assistant sports editor at the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune; her daughter Melissa Gordon Johnson, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., an accountant with a private firm; her grandchildren Nicholas, Myles, and Zachary; and a brother Richard, of Painesville.
Jim Gordon retired in 1991 after 25 years as head of the BGSU Photojournalism Sequence, preceded by seven years as director of BGSU’s News and Photo Service, and adviser to the KEY yearbook from 1959 to 1981.
After graduation from BGSU’s journalism department in 1957, he worked at The Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, OH), and The Star (Columbus), and was a staff photographer at The Blade (Toledo), for seven summers. During the Korean War, he was a photographer’s mate in the U.S. Navy Seabees. From 1978 to 2003, Gordon edited News Photographer magazine for the National Press Photographers Assn.