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After 25 Years


Jack Gordon To Retire As RASW CEO April, '91

from the xxx, 1991, issue of the Pacific NW Restaurateur

John F. "Jack" Gordon, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Restaurant Association of the State of Washington, has submitted his retirement plans effective April 1, 1991.

The retirement marks the end of 25 years of service with the industry association which began in 1966. During that time the association membership grew from a few hundred to 2500.

The RASW Executive Committee approved a "stepped down" retirement plan for Gordon which calls for a five-year assignment as director of the Seattle-King County chapters, coordinator of the biennial legislative galas and the regional expositions and conventions.

The retirement brings to an end a hospitality industry career which actually began in 1950 when he was public affairs director of Greater Seattle Inc. and served as Seattle's official greeter for many visiting celebrities for some 40 years.

His government and military career background includes service as State Commissioner of Employment Security, a consultant to the Dept. of Commerce for the Seattle World's Fair, a member of the State Personnel Appeals Board, Executive Secretary of the Professional Sports Committee, Special Assistant to a Governor for Expo 74 (Spokane World's Fair). In addition, he was active in many other civic endeavors.

He served in the administrations of Gov. Albert D. Rosellini, Daniel J. Evans and John D. Spellman. He was a consultant to Gov. Dixy Lee Ray. While Commissioner of Employment Security under Governor Rosellini, he created the Job Corps to stimulate employment, a plan which was taken over by the Kennedy administration.

Born in Portland, Gordon is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. James S. Gordon. The senior Gordon was a lumber broker in Georgia, Tacoma, and Seattle. Jack lived his early years in Portland, Seattle, Tacoma and San Francisco and attended St. Boniface School in the Bay City, St. James Cathedral, O'Dea High School, Seattle University, and the University of Washington. He has a brother, James, and a sister, Jeanette, who died as a baby.

Gordon's ancestors on his father's side come from Scotland. They migrated to Ireland's County Fermmanagh where their name in Gaelic became Magournahan. The family's surname returned to Gordon when they moved to America. On his mother's side, his name descends from the Ratchford and Ratigans of County Mayo.

During the depression he sold newspapers and was a carrier in San Francisco and Seattle. After editing his school paper at O'Dea High School, he got a job as a junior sports writer for the old Seaftle Star, worked for the Post-Intelligencer and later moved to the Seattle Times.

After four years service in the U.S. Navy in World War II as an enlisted man, he enrolled at Seattle College and became a city news editor at the Catholic Northwest Progress and later editor of the state newspapers for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. He edited three Navy newspapers at the Naval Air Station, Pasco, aboard the receiving ship Bremerton, and on Swan Island. Gordon later retired from the Washington State National Guard as a Major.

He was a national press officer for the VFW in Washington, D.C., worked in Michigan and later Chicago and then returned to Seattle in 1950 where he joined the staff of Greater Seattle, Inc, as public affairs director. He later worked as a consultant for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Washington, D.C.

When he returned to Seattle after Navy service, he registered at Seattle College (now Seattle University), later taking on the post as director of public relations. He moved over to the Athletic Department where he served as manager of the athletic news service and later as assistant to Athletic Director Bill Fenton and Francis Logan, S.J.

He created a nationwide campaign which helped win All-American honors for Johnny and Eddie O'Brien, the New Jersey recruits to the Chieftain team. He helped coach Al Brightman, athletic backer, Ralph Malone, and others recruit All-American Elgin Baylor. The 1952 Chieftains were picked for the NCAA Tournament, losing the final game to Kentucky. They previously played in the NIT Tournament and NCIT in Albany.

After turning the athletic duties over to Bill Sears, he joined the staff of the civic agency for Seafair, Greater Seattle, Inc. He enrolled at the University of Washington and became public affairs director at the Seattle Center. He also created the Hydroplane Hall of Fame for Greater Seattle.

Since the early 50's the VIPs Gordon has greeted or staged special functions for civic leaders Dudley Brown, Web Harrison, and R.C. "Torchy" Torrance who recruited him to welcome President Harry S. Truman. Jack had met Truman earlier at the VFW 50th Anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C.

Probably the most grueling of the civic activities which Gordon found himself involved in were the welcomes for soldiers returning from the war in Korea. Over 1,000,000 men came home through the Army's Port of Embarkation during a three year period. The welcomes included bands, movie stars, politicians, military leaders, and Barclay's "Can Can Girls" as well as the ever-present serpentine and parades in Seattle's "Welcome Lane."

Greetings ranged from General Douglas MacArthur and the Secretary of the Army, to all 50 of the nation's governors here for a National Governors Conference with President Eisenhower. He received the Sixth Army Award and a Commendation from "Ike" for the service.

He received the Time Magazine Award as a Newsmaker of Tomorrow in 1953 and was named in 1969 the Distinguished Alumni Award by Seattle University.

During the 50's and 60's Gordon produced "roast" shows for the Sportswriters Association's perennial secretary Ed Donohoe.

The Lodging Industry presented Gordon with the Bernie Russell Award in 1980 for "outstanding service."

He collaborated with publicist Guy Williams in producing early Press Club shows where politicians found themselves on the griddle.

In 1962, at the invitation of Governor Albert Rosellini, he created the Plaza of the States, the key ceremonial area during the Seattle World's Fair. For almost 25 years, new Americans have received their citizenship at an annual ceremony at the Plaza of the States.

He joined the staff of RASW as Executive Vice President in 1966 succeeding Charles G. Hord who had taken the restaurant reins after the death of George Clarke. Under Gordon's leadership, the Washington State Restaurant Association, the Class "H" Association, and the lobbying arm of the  Washington State Hotel-Motel Association were merged into a new organization - The Restaurant Association of the State of Washington.

Today (1991), he points with pride to the teamwork of the staff of the Association. An active network of 27 chapters, a series of annual state-wide conventions and seminars, and an effective lobbying effort by Bob Seeber are just some of Gordon's prides. Association membership grew from 300 to 2500 in 25 years.

Gordon notes the growth of the Pacific Int'l Hospitality Show, which has grown during his 25 years from a small exposition to the third largest show in the nation.

The Association budget, which was under $100,000 when Gordon assumed management of the Association, surpassed one million dollars during the 1985-86 year, its now closer to $2 million.

Gordon produces an biennial Legislative Gala with a lavish show between meal courses. At the 1990 event, some 400 legislators and government officials and guests joined over 600 industry sponsors.

At one time he was director of the State Lodging Association and received the Bernie Russell Award for Distinguished Service.

He served for 10 years as a member of the Seattle City Human Rights Commission and was chairman of the HRC-Seattle Police Dept. Commission. He was executive secretary to Seattle Police Chief H. J. Lawrence's Police Advisory Council.

Learning from experts such as the late Walter Van Camp, Guy Williams, Ralph Grossman, and Mel Anderson, Gordon has headed up arrangements for visits by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan as well as candidates Mondale and Humphrey.

Foreign dignitaries who were welcomed by Seattle's "Official Greeter" included Ethiopian Emperor Haille Selassie, Japanese Crown Prince Akihito, (now the Japanese Emperor), the President of Western Republic Germany, People's Republic of China Premier Deng, the President of Iceland, Swedish King and Queen, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip of Great Britain. Also included in this list are 45 state governors and many members of the U.S. Senate and Congress.

Gordon staged visits by Mercury astronaut John Glenn in 1962 and Gemini astronaut Richard Gordon in 1966. He later brought astronauts from Gemini X, Apollo XII, XVI, XVII and XVIII missions to Seattle. Dr. George Nelson, a mission specialist on the space shuttle program was a special guest at RASW's 1986 Pacific Int'l Hospitality Show.

In 1974, he created for Governor Dan Evans, a patriotic setting for special observances saluting the history of each state of the union at Expo 74, the Spokane World's Fair. This was the first event building up to America's 1976 Bicentennial celebration.

He was chairman of the State dinner for the National Governors Conference in 1974. He was coordinator for the White House Conference in Seattle under the Kennedy Administration as well as for the 1957 Colombo Conference held in Seattle.

He has found time during the past 35 years to serve as Treasurer and later President of the Civic Unity Committee founded by Mayor Devin; arrange America's first welcome for returning Vietnam veterans, serve as President of the Puget Sound Sportswriters and Casters Association, Commander of Post 1 of the American Legion and later as President of the Providence Medical Foundation. He was active in the Municipal League, Seattle-King County Convention Bureau, Association of Washington Business, Washington State Trade Fair, Better Business Bureau, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, President of St. Edward's Seminary Parents Club, Serra Club, City Club, Rainier Club, Columbia Tower, and Knights of Columbus.

Married to the former Roberta Walsh of Seattle, they have four children, John, Mary, Ann and Joseph and six grandchildren.

He's an Associate member of the State Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association, the American Society of Association Executives, the American Security Council and the International Society of Restaurant Association, Executives.





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