Gordon Young
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Gordon Young Oliver Gordon Young of San Luis Obispo passed peacefully at Bella Vista on August 8th, 2016, just before his 89th birthday, where he had resided the last few months. His daughter Debbie and a loving and admiring staff were near his side. Born in Banna, China, Yunnan Province, in 1927, where his parents were American Baptist missionaries, Gordon lived more than 40 years in tiny jungle villages and great cities of Thailand, Laos, Burma, Vietnam and India. Fluent in multiple Asian languages and dialects, he also learned the "language" of the jungle, by age 10 easily surviving alone in remote rainforests armed only with a knife and bow. As a young man, he was given the Lahu hill tribe's highest honor, "Supreme Hunter," by a tribal chief for his immense and diverse tracking and hunting skills. Lahu was Gordon's mother tongue and preferred language, learned from infancy. He later developed a passion for wildlife conservation and environmental protection, helping his father, Harold Mason Young, to found the Chiang Mai Zoo in Northern Thailand. Gordon wrote many fascinating books from his experiences, including his autobiography, Journey from Banna, as well as Run for the Mountains, and The Wind will Yet Sing. His earlier books made him popular the hunting stories told in Tracks of an Intruder, and his expertise on hill tribes in Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand. Gordon was the first to study and document information on the tribal people of Northern Thailand. After completing military service after World War II, Gordon returned to marry the love of his life, Peggy Karoleski in 1950, and attended Cal Poly, obtaining his degree in Agriculture/ Animal Husbandry. The Young family then embarked on 25 years of foreign service in Southeast Asia, where Gordon was first with the CIA, then the Office of Public Safety and the U.S. AID Mission in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Three of their four daughters were born in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He lived in San Luis Obispo since 1974, after leaving Laos, and he worked at PG&E before retiring in 1989. Gordon was an active birder for over 80 years and was a wonderful father and grandfather to his family, a storyteller to beat all storytellers. His passion, his zest and interest in gems, seashells, insects, reptiles, and the animal and plant kingdoms was enormous and unsurpassed. Gordon is preceded in death by his wife Peggy, his brother Bill Young, and precious granddaughter Rachel Howell. He is survived by his sister Helen Suter, his four daughters: Lenore Young of Santa Maria, Julie Howell (Jon Howell) of Gustavus, Alaska, Debora Chase (Jeff Chase) of Saratoga, Carolyn Young (Ron McMath) of Gualala, and grandchildren: Stephen and Caroline Chase, Matt and Jesse Howell, and his great-grandson, Gordon Chase. A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, August 13th at 4:00pm followed by a reception, at the First Presbyterian Church, 981 Marsh Street. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the First Presbyterian Church in memory of Gordon and Peggy Young, P.O. Box 591, San Luis Obispo, Calif., 93406, or your favorite charity. Sign his guestbook at sanluisobispo.com/obituaries

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Published in San Luis Obispo County Tribune on Aug. 10, 2016.
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19 entries
August 5, 2020
Charles Conn
August 5, 2020
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Charles Conn
August 4, 2020
Meeting Gordan was simply refreshing and inspiring. His respect for the remote inhabitants of Northern Thailand was elegant . The sharing of their culture and the fascinating wild environment they lived in was stunning to me. The names of hill-tribe villages presented more insights as to what Gordan learned and saw in times past. Today, his compassion and reverence for nature and the people of the hills simply lets me feel his goodness. He was a hopeful person.To me Gordan Young is the model of a truly "Good
Man". I follow his memory often these days.
Reno Taini
August 18, 2016
Gordon was my first cousin. My Father Vincent Young was his father's brother. Gordon will be missed greatly as he was such a delightful and knowledgeable person, but I know he is in a far better place, united with his dear wife, Peggy. I look forward to an eternity with him in heaven some day!
Nelda Widlund
August 15, 2016
Sawadi Krap, Khun Young! Kawp khun mak for that landrover trip to your family's cabin in north Thailand as a highschooler [ISB]--but that was only because my younger brother Paul was a prodigy in herpetology and a best friend of Gordon, so I was merely a "tag along". The trip and Mr. Young made a profound and last influence on my life.... Again, Kawp khun mak!
David Soderberg
August 15, 2016
Gordon was a close friend of my good friends, John and Dorothy Brandt, and became a friend and acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago in Thailand. He was quiet and unassuming, fascinating and adventurous, and lived his extraordinary life with grace and dignity. I feel privileged to have known John and Gordon. They don't make 'em like that anymore....My sincere sympathy on his family's great loss.
Dorothy Goeddeke
August 15, 2016
It is over 20 years that I have been with various groups of Thai people from the North. My love of the country and the people grew. I learned a lot from the words that Gordon wrote down. And then his great stories would inspire me even more. It was a magical time to connect with him. We spoke and explored ideas regarding the environment and the hill people of Thailand then and now. I thank his family for the opportunity to visit Gordon. Without a doubt we had a happy time. In my heart he will always be that Good Good man that knew so much and felt the pulse of those wild places inhabited by those interesting people. It was a privilege to be with him. I sincerely felt his spirit. It goes with me now.
Reno Taini
August 14, 2016
Gordon Young, was a close friend and mentor for 60 years. We first met in Chiengmai, Thailand when I was a member of the Sea Supply Corporation. His parents, Ruth and Harold, gave my wife and me our first "child," a baby gibbon. After our departure from Thailand, Gordon shot and killed a marauding male leopard at the request of a hill tribe village atop Doi Sutep, the dominant mountain which overlooks Chiengmai. By previous agreement, Gordon shipped the beautiful skin of this animal to us at our new duty station, Fort Canpbell, Kentucky. The Gordon Young leopard skin has been an important focal point of the interior decor of our homes all over the world. In the summer of 1971, Gordon was a guest in our home in Alexandria, Virginia for several weeks. He was more like family than guest. When I received the sad news last night of Gordon's passing, I gently stroked the fur of that leopard skin, mounted on my wall, and said a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving that Oliver Gordon Young was a special family friend for many, many years.
August 14, 2016
Got to know Gordon at Diablo Canyon in the 80's. Enjoyed him and all the stories
he told. A great guy that had your back.
Cole Tidwell
August 13, 2016
I am so sorry to hear of Gordon's passing. I shared but a moment of his life that I will always treasure. His father was a friend and mentor to me in my youth in Thailand. Gordon wasn't there then, but his legend was and I knew him through his books and his legend in Chiengmai. I spoke to him on the phone, but never got to meet him. Something that I will always regret. I will miss knowing him. He had a great spirit, and a great heart. One of the last true adventurers bequeathed to this world has passed on, but not from our memories. My sincerest condolences to you all.
John Wilhite
August 13, 2016
"Mr. Gordon's" smile lit up our home in Laos on many occasions. My parents, Drs. Jigs Weldon and Pat McCreedy admired him tremendously. His book "Tracks of an Intruder" shaped my vision of life in the hills. He was a wonderful man and will be remembered by many generations. My prayers are with you.
Becky Weldon
August 13, 2016
Dear Lenore, Julie, Debbie, and Carolyn, and families.
I am so saddened to hear of Cousin Gordon's passing! I wish I had kept in better touch, but the love was always there. He, and my oldest brother, Larry, were so close and so much alike! Gordon was someone who certainly lived life to its fullest and with such integrity. Our"missionary" backgrounds
have left such a rich history for us all. Your grandmother Saada and my mother Marie were sisters.
I am thinking of you all this day of Gordon's funeral and wishing I was there to send him on and share his spectacular life with you.
I would very much like to keep in touch with you.
My deepest blessings and sympathy to you all.
I so loved and will miss my cousin Gordon.
Suzan Granger Malden
Suzan Malden
August 13, 2016
It was wonderful growing up with the exotic stories about Gordon and his family in Thailand and Burma. It was nice to reconnect with him again when he moved to San Luis Obispo. Cousin Walter Granger
August 13, 2016
I cherish the honor I had of spending a wonderful afternoon with this fine man at his home in SLO. We spoke about "old Asian hands", zoology, and of course Gordon's fondest memories of life in the jungle. It was an unforgettable journey back in time with a unique and unforgettable person. My condolences to the family, and my thanks to them as well for the touching photographic tribute to their patriarch's fascinating life on YouTube.
Chris Wemmer
August 13, 2016
While I did not have the privilege of meeting him, I have enjoyed reading about his experiences as part of my research on Lahu language and culture. My condolences to his family. He has left a lasting mark in many arenas.
Judith Pine
August 13, 2016
Gordon was a wonderful man that had a zest for life. We shared many thoughts and ideas about people of different cultural backgrounds with much agreement. I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with such a kind man. The World is a better place having Gordon Young being part of it. He will be missed, but his stories will live on in our hearts. My sincere condolence goes out to his family. Santiphap
Andrew Jones
August 13, 2016
Gordon's love of life..visiting a Lahu village.
A terrible loss for the planet earth. Gordon always loved all those around him. He loved people, nature, his beloved Lahus and other tribesmen. Above all he loved his Wife,his children and his parents.
I will miss a very inspirational friend. What a gift to have spent time in those hills with Gordon and his dad. All our deepest sympathy to the Kids and the entire
family. All our love, Lois and Carl Conn
Carl Conn
August 11, 2016
He was a good friend and I remember him as a wonderful person.
Bertil Lintner
August 11, 2016
Marge and I send sincere condolences to Gordon's Family. We worked together in Ban Houei Sai, Laos (1973-75)and remember his dedicated USAID team efforts and loyal friendship. We join his family and friends in prayers for his eternal rest in heaven.
Jack Huxtable
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