Home
Resources
More Obituaries for Gordon Forward
Looking for an obituary for a different person with this name?

Gordon E. Forward


1936 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Gordon E. Forward Obituary
Gordon E. Forward July 15, 1936 - August 8, 2018 La Jolla Gordon died peacefully on August 8, 2018 due to complications from Alzheimer's disease. He faced this difficult disease with the same good humor that he brought to all his endeavors in life. He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Heather Humble Forward (J.D.), sons Mark and Paul, daughters-in-law Lillian and Rachel, six grandchildren, brother Nelson Forward, and an extended family in British Columbia and beyond. Gordon was born in Vancouver, Canada, to parents Dorothy and Frank Forward, the third of four brothers. He graduated as valedictorian from the University Hill School, and followed his father in the study of metallurgy, earning Bachelor's and Master's degrees in metallurgical engineering from the University of British Columbia in 1960 and 1962. His work in the metals industry led him to Lyon, France, where he married fellow Vancouverite Heather Humble at the Canadian consulate in February 1963. With Heather's encouragement and help, he received his Doctor of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1966. After a brief stint working in the research department at the Steel Company of Canada, in 1968 he teamed up with mini-mill pioneer Gerald Heffernan at the Lake Ontario Steel Company. This was the beginning of a career-long partnership at the forefront of the development of electric furnaces and continuous casting technologies to recycle scrap steel into new products. In 1974, Gordon and his young family moved to Texas where he served as Vice President of Operations at new startup Chaparral Steel Co., a 220,000 ton per year steel mill. He became Chaparral's Chief Executive Officer in 1982 and by the time of his retirement in 1998, Chaparral was producing 1.8 million tons per year, most of which were larger beam and specialty products that were well beyond the capabilities of mini-mills at the time of Chaparral's founding. Under Gordon's leadership, Chaparral achieved international acclaim as a highly productive steel mill, and more importantly, an example of how management can encourage innovation at all levels of any organization. In 1999, Gordon was recognized by New Steel magazine as one of the eleven most influential executives in the US Steel industry in the 20th century, alongside such names as Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan, with the statement that he "may be the closest thing to a technical genius since the days of Henry Bessemer." Gordon was recognized as a distinguished graduate of MIT, and received Honorary Doctorates from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, and his beloved University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia. The US Environmental Protection Agency awarded Gordon with the President's Volunteer Service Award for his work developing the concept of byproduct synergies during his time as Chairman of the US Business Council for Sustainable Development. Author Tom Peters named Gordon "Chief Executive Officer of the Year" in 1987, featuring his work with Chaparral prominently in the bestselling business book of the same year Thriving on Chaos. The US National Academy of Engineering elected him as a member in 1996. For a sense of Gordon's style and passion for his work, please read his 1986 interview in Harvard Business Review: Wide-Open Management at Chaparral Steel. Gordon's sense of humor and charisma kept all of those in both his personal and professional lives inspired and in stitches. He could recite the best sketches from Beyond the Fringe in their entirety, shift his comedic accents quickly around the world as he told jokes or called his head of Human Resources to apply for jobs at his own company. When asked to be Santa Claus for his department's Christmas party at MIT, he did so under the condition that David Rose's "The Stripper" be played as entry music. He brought the same joyful spirit to his favorite role in life, which was that of a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. Gordon's family wishes to express its gratitude to the staff of Chateau de Oro in La Jolla, CA, for their loving care of Gordon for his final three years. At Gordon's request, there will be no funeral service.
Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Aug. 11, 2018
Read More
Give others a chance to express condolences. Not right now.