GORDON HOWARD DRUMMOND
October 24, 1947 - February 1, 2022
Gordon "Gordy" Howard Drummond, of Cove, Oregon, ended his earthly journey peacefully at dawn on February 1, 2022, with a close friend at his side. He was 74. Gordon was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the youngest of three children born to Howard Drummond and Vera Callahan Drummond.
The family moved to Cranston, Rhode Island, when Gordon was five years old. Growing up, he particularly enjoyed spending time with his ‘special’ Aunt Grace and Uncle Ernie, who weren't related, but were important in his life. Swimming, boating and digging littleneck clams, when he wasn’t working his paper route, were his favorite activities.
During his high school years at Cranston East, he lettered in football before graduating in 1965. Shortly after graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Taiwan, doing maintenance on the planes dropping Agent Orange in Vietnam. Although the cancer that plagued the last 18 years of his life was undoubtedly caused by his exposure to Agent Orange, he was denied Service Injury status because he wasn't actually on the ground in Vietnam. Despite the injustice of that denial, Gordon seldom expressed bitterness about it. He just forged ahead.
Following his Honorable Discharge, Gordon found himself living in Florida, and trying his hand (and the rest of his body) at professional bull riding. In that same time period, he attended a nationally ranked blacksmithing school, and became a highly sought-after farrier, shoeing entire stables of horses, work that was as hard on his back as bull riding! For leisure, he frequently competed in motocross racing, handling machines instead of large animals.
Deciding that he missed Rhode Island, he went to stay with his brother-in-law and sister, David and Loma Sands, for a week. The week turned into seven years before he moved out to relocate in Galilee, Rhode Island, where he enjoyed working as a diesel mechanic on large commercial fishing boats for another seven years.
While he never had children of his own, during the years he lived with his brother-in-law and sister, Gordon became a sort of second father to his two nephews. Christopher and Patrick, mentoring them in the wonders of nature, travel, and spontaneity.
Gordon was a sports fan who particularly rooted for the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox. He was also a NASCAR and hockey fan, and traveled extensively across the Midwest and Atlantic states to attend everything from the Indy 500 to the Kentucky Derby, Watkins Glen, and Fenway Park.
In the late 1970s, one of his journeys eventually brought him to the Grande Ronde valley in northeast Oregon, and he was immediately captivated by the land, the mountains, and the rivers. In spite of his deep attachment to his family and the ocean, he took up residence in La Grande, and, a few years later, bought a home on the hill above Cove.
Gordon had an unsurpassed work ethic. For more than 25 years, he worked at several occupations, ranging from roofing to blacksmithing to trail maintenance, logging, and tree thinning. In his spare time, he hand-dug a basement area beneath his house. Gordon learned about logging while working with Art Garrett. Art also mentored Gordon about handling horses while they did trail maintenance in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. He enjoyed it so much that he bought a team of Belgian draft horses who became like his children. Having learned logging and blacksmithing, having his own forge, and being a farrier as well, he shod his own horses, and started doing low-impact horse-logging on sensitive terrain.
Gordon's life changed abruptly when cancer intervened. He was Life-Flighted to Portland for emergency surgery with a ruptured intestine. He actually died on the operating table, and was revived. For nearly 20 years, he battled the disease and the effects of the multiple chemotherapy treatments he underwent, which crippled his feet.
His greatest disappointment was that the neuropathy from the chemotherapy was so severe he could no longer work effectively. Even then, he found a positive. He often said, "I may not have any money, but I have a million dollar view!"
Although unable to do the physical labor he'd always done, Gordon found mental stimulation playing cribbage and working Sudoku puzzles. For many years, even after his feet were crippled by the chemo. Gordon could be seen flipping burgers at the Union County Livestock Show in Union. One of his greatest pleasures was in attending cribbage tournaments with his devoted friend, Kristine Keller of La Grande.
Everyone in Union County knew who “Gordy” was, even those who'd never met him. His courage and determination became an inspiration to everyone who knew him.
Gordon was preceded in death by his parents, Howard and Vera Drummond; his sister, Lorna Sands, and his brothers-in-law, David Sands and David Bland. He is survived by his sister, Dale Bland; niece, Jennifer Hamm and her husband Fred; niece, Roberta Featherstone; nephews, Christopher and Patrick Sands; his devoted soulmate of 26 years, Kristine Keller, and several close friends. He’ll be mourned and missed by many people on both sides of the continent
Per Gordon's request, there will be no formal services. In memory of Gordon, please consider a random act of kindness to help a veteran in need. They’re throughout your community, and usually won’t ask for help.
Online condolences may be made at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com.