Bill Gordon
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Engineer Bill Gordon, who designed the photogenic radio telescope in Puerto Rico that spotted the first planets beyond our solar system and lakes on one of Saturn's moons, has died in New York state. He was 92.

Gordon died Tuesday of natural causes, according to officials at Cornell University in Ithaca, the Ivy League college where he served on the engineering faculty from 1953-66.

He designed the Arecibo Observatory's radio telescope in the 1950s; it's a 1,000-foot-wide dish set in a sinkhole surrounded by forested hills.

Within a year of opening, it was used to determine the planet Mercury's period of rotation. After radio pulsars — rotating neutron stars — were discovered in 1967, the observatory played a prominent role in studying their properties.

The astronomers Joseph Taylor and Russell Hulse discovered the first binary pulsar at Arecibo in 1974, leading to a 1993 Nobel Prize in physics.

In 1990, Polish astronomer Aleksander Wolszczan used the telescope in the discovery of a pulsar in the constellation Virgo that was shown to be orbited by the first known planets beyond Earth's solar system.

The telescope, owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by Cornell, had a prominent role in the 1997 Jodie Foster film "Contact," based on a Carl Sagan book about the search for extraterrestrial life — a hunt that still continues at the observatory. In the 1995 James Bond movie "GoldenEye," the telescope's platform figured in the climactic fight scene.

"When we were talking about building (the telescope) back in the late '50s, we were told by eminent authorities it couldn't be done," Gordon said at Arecibo's 40th Anniversary in 2003. "We were in the position of trying to do something that was impossible, and it took a lot of guts and we were young enough that we didn't know we couldn't do it."

These days, the telescope's work includes searching for asteroids and comets headed for Earth. It also discovered lakes of hydrocarbons on Saturn's moon Titan.

Gordon was born in Paterson, N.J., and earned a bachelor's degree from Montclair State Teacher's College, a master's degree from New York University and his doctorate at Cornell. He was a professor and administrator at Rice University in Texas from 1966 until his retirement in 1985.

"He was probably the greatest man I ever knew," said Richard Behnke, head of upper atmospheric research at the National Science Foundation. "You don't see people like him very often. Perhaps once in a lifetime."

Behnke, who earned his doctorate under Gordon at Rice and remained a lifelong friend, called Gordon a visionary whose atmospheric work laid the foundation for current studies of satellite communication, space weather, and GPS.

"He started the whole field of studies of the upper atmosphere, the ionosphere," Behnke said.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press
Published by St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Feb. 19, 2010.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
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You and your family are in my prayer's RIP
jerry brudermann
May 29, 2016
Ron and Mary:

Our deepest sympathy to you in this time of sorrow.

Donn and Martha Collins
Shawn Nelson
August 15, 2011
mary ellen pettibone
August 10, 2011
Bill Pemberton
August 8, 2011
carol denny
July 30, 2011
robert chichka
July 14, 2011
barry dean sargent
July 14, 2011
robert short
July 11, 2011
eva lincoln
January 19, 2011
tyree slaughter
January 14, 2011
sandy skaggs
January 5, 2011
maude boggs
December 18, 2010
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December 14, 2010
randy frisby
December 11, 2010
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November 29, 2010
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November 27, 2010
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November 18, 2010
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November 15, 2010
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November 3, 2010
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November 1, 2010
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October 26, 2010
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October 26, 2010
v storey
October 23, 2010
william mckinney
October 19, 2010
Cathy smith
October 18, 2010
te edwards
October 16, 2010
October 4, 2010
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October 1, 2010
sanuk buckner
October 1, 2010
ronald gwinn
September 30, 2010
September 25, 2010
ed low
September 14, 2010
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Edna Thompson
September 6, 2010
terry timmons
September 3, 2010
holly trimble
September 2, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 24, 2010
opal lawless
August 15, 2010
my god be with bill gordon family.i know they love him and miss him so much. and you all be in my prays.
gordon miller
July 23, 2010
God bless. William Gordon from new york.
April 4, 2010
Dear friends and family of Bill Gordon,

As a veteran radio science type I have long known about Bill and greatly admired his work. For reasons that I cannot explain, we did not met personally until 2002, at the time of the URSI Assembly in Maastricht, Holland. In nearby Brussels, Jela Bogitch, dear friend of Bill and longtime URSI secretary, worried about the fact that because of illness she was unable to offer Bill the warm hospitality she was accustomed to provide. Knowing Jela, it was a particular pleasure for me and my family to meet Bill in Brussels and to spend time with him as we traveled back and forth to Maastricht and the URSI Assembly. We had meals together and shared in the conference experience. On our last night in Brussels before returning to the states, Bill invited Betty and me to dinner at his hotel. We talked of many things, and wondered with some regret how it was that we had not met before.

At that time it was clear that Bill was suffering greatly from the loss of his first wife, and it was with great pleasure that we later learned of his second marriage. Sadly, we did not see Bill again, but I will always remember the pleasure my wife, sons and I experienced in his company. My wife recently passed away, and I have a renewed appreciation for the spirit Bill displayed in the aftermath of a great personal loss.

I wish you well, and look forward to including Bill in the memoirs that I am writing.

Kindest regards,

Don Carpenter
Don Carpenter
March 5, 2010
Hi Mr Gordon: while you are surrounded by Angels and happy to be with the Lord, we the people from the island of Puerto Rico says THANKS, we'll never forget you; our hopes, to meet you there when God decide it.. may your relatives find support and strength as a gift from Jesuschrist..
willy mollfull
March 5, 2010

Do not weep for me when I no longer dwell among the wonders of the earth; for my larger self is free, and my soul rejoices on the other side of pain...on the other side of darkness.

Do not weep for me, for I am a ray of sunshine that touches your skin, a tropical breeze upon your face, the hush of joy within your heart and the innocence of babes in mothers arms.

I am the hope in a darkened night. And, in your hour of need, I will be there to comfort you. I will share your tears, your joys, your fears, your disappointments and your triumphs.

Do not weep for me, for I am cradled
in the arms of God. I walk with the angels, and hear the music beyond the stars.

Do not weep for me, for I am within you;
I am peace, love, I am a soft wind that caresses the flowers. I am the calm that follows a raging storm. I am an autumns leaf that floats among the garden of God, and I am pure white snow that softly falls upon your hand.

Do not weep for me, for I shall never die, as long as you remember me...
with a smile and a sigh.

© Joe Fazio
~ [email protected] /Joe Fazio, Beverly Hills, California
March 2, 2010
Condolences go out to Bills Family. I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Bill. He was my god-father and a wonderful man. Bill was admired by many around the world he will be missed by all. Rest In Peace.
Jennifer Carlson LaChance
March 1, 2010
My heart goes out to you at this time and in the days ahead.
Carlton Hazlewood
February 28, 2010
May you find comfort in the peace of God that excels all thought.(phil 4:7)
February 27, 2010
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
February 26, 2010
To the family and freinds of Bill Gordon:

I am so sorry for your loss. Please find comfort in your memories, and from the words in the scriptures.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens are declaring the glory of God; And of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.

Job 14:14-15 If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? All the days of my compulsory service I shall wait, Until my relief comes. You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.

Psalm 147:3 He is healing the brokenhearted ones, And is binding up their painful spots.
Greg Richardson
February 26, 2010
Sorry to hear of your loss. May you find comfort in the hope of death being no more Psalms 37:10-11
February 25, 2010
The Arecibo Observatory, it was located 10 minutes away from where I
grew up in Puerto Rico and where my dear family still resides today. We always were facinated and intriged by the Observatory.
May God in His Mercy bring comfort and peace to the Gordon Family, and
may they also rejoice in the contribution of this great man
GOD BLESS, Maria Minnesota
February 25, 2010
The Arecibo Observatory, it was located 10 minutes away from where I
grew up in Puerto Rico and where my dear family still resides today. We always were facinated and intriged by the Observatory.
May God in His Mercy bring comfort and peace to the Gordon Family, and
may they also rejoice in the contribution of this great man
GOD BLESS, Maria, Minnesota
February 25, 2010
The Arecibo Observatory, it was located 10 minutes away from where I
grew up in Puerto Rico and where my dear family still resides today. We always were facinated and intriged by the Observatory.
May God in His Mercy bring comfort and peace to the Gordon Family, and
may they also rejoice in the contribution of this great man
February 25, 2010
I was one of the many nurses who took care of him off and on in his final 2 years. Never knowing who he was- just another Cornell professor to us. Myself, fascinated with the origins of humans and the universe, it would have been nice to know him before his decline. I am unable to speak of his health status out of dignity and HIPPA laws. But he was a wondeful man to take care of while he was with us. He is at peace now, and hopefully enjoying the universe!
February 24, 2010
My sympathies go out to the Gordon Family during your time of loss. May you find comfort from the words found at Isaiah 61:2.
Keysha Harrison
February 24, 2010
We are sorry to hear about your loss. The death of a loved one can bring on grief that may seem overwhelming at times. Yet, the bible's promises give us comfort and hope. In Psalms 37:11 it shows that one day "The meek ones themselves will possess the earth. And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace." How we long for that day to come! Our condolences go out to the entire family.
Samuel O
February 24, 2010
To the bereaved family and close friends. May all be comforted by reflecting on a time when death will be no more. Yes at that time one's life will not end while he is working or planning something beneficial. Now Mr. Gordon awaits a time when those asleep in death will be resurrected to life again. This will take place under God's Kingdom rule.
A. L.
February 23, 2010
Go in peace, friend.
February 23, 2010
My Condolence to the family,......God is GOOD.......Trust in the Lord, he will see you through.....
February 23, 2010
Dr. Gordon was a man of titanic accomplishments. He is the kind of guy who made American great. We sure could use more like him.

I find it notable that not only was his telescope of fantastic scientific value, but its presence in feature films showed great aesthetic qualities. That's engineering.
February 23, 2010
We've lost a great light in the realm of astronomy. Tho not an engineer or a scientist, I've always been interested in the heavens and loved every science program that came to television to inform me. Condolences to the family and blessings to Dr. Gordon.
Kandy Crowe
February 23, 2010
My family was interested in hearing about him. We are from Caldwell, N.J. My father is an Engineer. Our family moved to Houston, Tx in the 70's. I graduated from U of H in 1985, and then married and moved to Puerto Rico. I visited the observatory while I lived there. So many coincidences, strange we did not run into each other! Our condolences. What a great contribution he made, we thank him. -Terri
Terri R.
February 22, 2010
Deb and I send our condolences to Dr. Gordon's family. He was kind and generous with his time, offering career advice to our son Ian, an aspiring engineer.
John Baldwin
February 22, 2010
As a former resident of Puerto Rico and frequent visitor to the radio telescope in Arecibo, I salute Bill Gordon's vision and contributions to science and human progress. May his family take comfort in knowing that his achievements are widely appreciated and recognized.
Gordon Cox
February 22, 2010
To the Gordon family my prayers and condolences go out to you. I hope that your sweet memories and your reliance on the almighty comfort you and the days ahead.
February 22, 2010
Gordon Family,
Sorry to hear of the loss of such a beloved individual. I just wanted to express my condolences to your family, and share a comforting scripture that has helped my family at times like this. It is found in Pslams 37:29 (reading) "The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and that will reside forever upon it." That is something we all have to look forward to as the bible promises. Take Care..
S Smith
February 22, 2010
To The Family Of Bill Gordon,
My thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of grief. He was one of the greatest man to ever live.
February 22, 2010
To The Family Of Bill Gordon,
My thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of grief. He was one of the greatest man to ever live.
Guadalupe Llinet
February 22, 2010
I thank God that you had and used your talents in a positive direction on this Earth, that we might advance to see where we can go. Now your eyes are truly sight filled in the presence of the creator!
David Lawrence
February 21, 2010
You can see forever now.
Henryk Zaleski
February 21, 2010
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
i petty
February 20, 2010
February 20, 2010
To the Family of Bill Gordon,

So very sorry for the death of such a creative and inventive man like Mr.Gordon.

What a wonderful invention he made, that of the radio telescope. He added to the enjoyment of star glazing, and I wanted to thank him for that.

You can feel that Death can leave a heartache that nothing can heal, just know that Love can leave a memory that no one can steal.

Grant Family
February 20, 2010
Our condolences to Bill's family,
We were so sorry to hear of your loss. May our Heavenly Father, the God of comfort and tender mercies be with you all (2 Corinthians 1:4). With deep sympathy,
Hart Family
February 20, 2010
To the the family of Bill Gordon - May God give you peace and comfort through his word and the Lord Jesus Christ during this time of sorrow,I know that Bill will be missed by many.
R Golay
February 19, 2010
We did not meet Bill until his later years when he and Liz visited us several times on Whidbey Island in Washington State. For all of his significant accomplishments, keen intellect, boundless inquisitiveness, and gutsy creativity, a more modest and pleasant man one could not hope to meet. It is the truly great who can make the rest of us feel completely at ease in their presence. We feel privileged to have enjoyed a few meals and conversation with him and are thankful for the scientific gifts he gave to the human race. It is modest men of substance like Bill who advance civilization and give hope and inspiration for the future.
Bill & Carol Viertel
February 19, 2010
With a broken heart, I learned of Bill's passing. I will miss him very much. My prayers and thoughts go out to Liz and the rest of the family. I was able to share some quality time w/ Bill helping him with computer support at Kendal. I looked forward to every meeting as he was always eager to learn. He will be missed.
scotty rude
February 19, 2010
February 19, 2010