Merle Thomas Gordon, 92, lifelong resident of Thorp, mechanic and outdoorsman, died February 8, 2013 at Mountain View Meadows in Ellensburg. Merle and his twin, Earl, were born May 9, 1920, in Thorp, WA to Martin Edgar Gordon and Eva Dale Wilcox Gordon. A graduate of Thorp High School, Merle trained as a diesel mechanic at the Hemphill Diesel School of Portland, OR. Merle enlisted in the US Coast Guard in 1942, first walking shore patrol and after more school, maintaining a civilian cabin cruiser used to tow practice sonar targets for the Navy out of San Pedro Harbor, California. At the war's end, Merle returned home to operate his father's sawmill, serving as both sawyer and logger from 1946 through 1953. In 1954, he went to work for F.R. Hewitt, a Spokane-based road contractor, before moving to Webb Tractor in 1955, at that time the Caterpillar tractor dealer for Kittitas County. It was in these years that Merle earned a lasting reputation as the best heavy duty mechanic in Kittitas County: trouble-shooting, repairing, and maintaining heavy equipment from the Cascades to the Columbia. In 1971 Merle carried his vast knowledge of diesel equipment to Ellensburg Cement Products Company, a position he held until his retirement in 1992. During retirement, he volunteered at the Thorp Fire Department keeping their equipment in good shape. Merle's reputation as a heavy-duty mechanic was eclipsed only by his renown as an outdoorsman. Merle knew every inch of Kittitas County and the mountains surrounding it. As seasons turned, he could be found fishing the waters of the Yakima River and all its tributaries, hunting grouse, chukars, deer, elk, the occasional bear and pheasant, and on a couple of memorable trips, moose in Canada. He rarely came home empty handed. Merle gathered wild mushrooms in the spring, picked wild berries every fall, and cut firewood to keep his family warm during the winter. Throughout the warm summer months, he spent his weekends camping in the woods, usually in his ubiquitous 1946 Willys Jeep, always with family and friends, driving every road in Kittitas County. For Merle, sharing his love of field and forest was as important to him as any personal enjoyment. So too was the time he spent with his children and grandchildren. A loving father, Merle rooted his kids on at ball games, listened to their music no matter how bad it was, taught them to shoot a rifle, gut a fish, and stand on their own two feet with honor and confidence.
Survivors include his loving wife Marianne, whom he married on December 26, 1959, five children; Carrie Gordon of Prineville, OR, Susan (Lee) O'Donovan of Moscow, TN, Donna (Dean) Evans of Ellensburg, Sarah (Timm) Wauzynski of Yakima, and Tom (Terry) Gordon of Colville, 4 grandchildren; Katy (John) O'Donovan Peterson, April Evans, Josh Evans, Annette (Rob) Evans Voshall and 3 great-grandchildren; Samuel Evans, Jaden Voshall and Jocelyn Voshall, several step-grandchildren and numerous step-great-grandchildren; a younger brother, Gerald (Jeanne) Gordon of Thorp, sister-in-law Betty (Earl) Gordon of Ellensburg and numerous nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his lifelong fishing and hunting partner, Don Knoke. Merle was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Albert and Earl Gordon both of Ellensburg, and his sister Lenna Cram of Snohomish, WA. In lieu of flowers, we suggest donations in Merle's name to Mountain View Meadows (1008 E. Mountain View Ave., Ellensburg), Hospice Friends (401 E. Mountain View Ave., Ellensburg) or Fire District #1 in Thorp. A CELEBRATION OF Merle Gordon's life is planned for Sunday afternoon, June 9 at Fire District 1 Station in Thorp. More details will follow. Brookside Funeral Home & Crematory is entrusted with arrangements.