Martin Arnold Gordon, 84, of Ennis passed away March 21, 2009, at Bozeman.
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Marty was born Sept. 4, 1924, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Dora Monteverdi Gordon and Samuel "Doc" Gordon. The family drove to Los Angeles when Marty was 3 years old, and Marty grew up near the Zelig Zoo, where his father's friends lived and trained their animals during the winter for their summer circus engagements. Marty's first pet was a baby lion who grew up to be Jackie the Lion, who can still be seen in all MGM movie openings and was in many early Tarzan movies.
Marty earned his pilot's license when he was 16, starting a lifetime of involvement in aviation. He was 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. He served in the South Pacific, first on the USS Prince William as a meteorologist, then playing football for the Navy at Kaneoye Bay, where his reputation from high school as the "Mad Russian" continued.
After the war, he played football first for UCLA, Fresno State University, and then the Chicago Hornets, eventually coaching for the St. Joseph's Padres in Los Angeles.
Marty married shortly after the war, and his five older children grew up in Alhambra, Calif. Marty spent 40 years working in the "Sin Business" as a buyer at Thrifty Drug, then at Glaser Brothers', then as the president of AMI, a subsidiary of Core-Mark.
Shortly after retiring in 1986, Marty, his wife, Victoria, and son, Samuel moved to Ennis, where he treasured the beauty of the valley, the mountains, and most of all, his many dear friends. His storytelling was legendary, his memory for details, names and dates phenomenal. After a few years of writing a weekly column for the local paper, Marty published his stories about his Papa (a strongman in the circus) in a book titled, "Papa was a Strongman."
Marty was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved half-sisters, Rose Allen and Lil Blacher; half-brother, Leonard; and son, Steve.
He is survived by his wife, Victoria; children, Michael (Susan), Robin, Kelly (Colin), Christy (Steve), Samuel (Sarah); eight grandchildren; and his beloved extended family.
A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 26, at the Madison Valley Cemetery in Ennis, the Rev. Karen Hall and Rav. Stan Rosenberg presiding.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a charity of choice.
K&L Mortuaries & Crematory of Ennis is handling arrangements.
K & L Mortuaries
103 1st Ave E
Three Forks, MT 59752
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Mar. 24, 2009