Dr. Rudolph Gordon’s goals remained the same from the first time he walked into Fountain Inn’s Bryson High School to teach math in 1959 to the time he retired as superintendent of the Greenville County School District 41 years later.
He wanted to help every student perform to his or her potential and to provide the resources necessary to do so.
And students today – 12 years after Gordon retired – are still benefiting from two of Gordon’s major accomplishments: the creation of the school district’s five-pronged Education Plan and the beginning of what turned out to be a $1 billion school construction program that renovated, added to or built 70 schools designed to give all students equal facilities no matter where in the county they lived.
Gordon died last week at the age of 74.
He had battled cancer for many years.
But while area education officials spoke of Gordon’s accomplishments in the classroom and in the district’s administrative offices, others spoke of Gordon as a humble man, a true public servant and a man who was strong in his faith.
“Rudy was a great man who touched many lives in a positive way. I am proud to have known him as a colleague, friend and mentor. He accomplished much during a distinguished career in educational leadership,” wrote Leonard Pellicer of St. Augustine, Fla. in an online memory. “But above all, he lived a life that mattered.”
Janie Reid of Piedmont wrote, “He was a fine man and a credit to the human race.”
Gordon became Greenville County School Superintendent in 1996. The four years he led the district were marked by a sharp political divide between conservatives and their detractors on the school board, controversies over redrawing school attendance zones and a vote on whether to split the school district into smaller ones.
Gordon had a reputation in the district as a problem-solver. He helped the smooth integration of Bryson High School, and took over the principalships at Beck Middle and J.L. Mann High following controversies at those schools.
A new elementary school was named in his honor in 2008.
Gordon was an active member of John Wesley United Methodist Church and active in many civic affairs.
A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. It was moved from John Wesley United Methodist Church to Buncombe Street United Methodist Church because of the crowd that is expected.
The family will receive friends following the service at the church.