Alan Gordon was a lot of things to many people in and around Parsippany.
For 15 years off and on, he was a member of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education. He even served as the body's vice president in the 2004-05 school year.
He spent 13 years working with the Immediate Medical Care Center in Wayne. Then he moved on to the Women’s Cancer Center at Morristown Memorial Hospital's Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, where he worked for eight years as business coordinator.
Gordon served the community in many other ways: as a member of the local Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, as a trustee for the Parsippany Child Day Care Center, as a supporter of the Parsippany Republican Club and as a booster for the Parsippany High School marching band and football team. He also sat on the County College of Morris County Board of Trustees.
Gordon died suddenly Friday morning of an apparent heart attack, according to family members. He was 59 years old.
Born in Morristown, he moved to Parsippany 25 years ago and spent his time as a resident working to make a positive difference in the township.
"I will always remember him behind the cannon at Parsippany High football games," said former Board of Education member Robert Crawford. "He would sit, just waiting for a touchdown. There Alan would be in a lawn chair, wearing earplugs and holding on to a cord that he would pull when Parsippany scored.
"He would even call [Parsippany resident] Pat Petaccia, who would bring her dogs, and warn her before he would set off the cannon, because the sound would upset her dogs," Crawford continued. "Alan was a class guy."
Daniel Tobias, M.D., director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Morristown and Overlook hospitals, agreed.
"Alan Gordon was a dedicated and extremely hardworking member of the team who ran our division for years," Tobias said. "His passing is a great loss to all of us who worked with him as well as our patients. He was a wonderful man who carried himself with dignity and was always kind and compassionate to the staff as well as our patients."
"We were fortunate to have his talents and expertise and his absence will be deeply felt," said Lydia Nadeau, Director, oncology service line at Morristown Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center. "Alan was a highly regarded, energetic person who embodied all of the values of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center. His commitment to our patients and our community was unwavering. No job was too great for him to tackle."
His Board of Education colleagues are feeling the loss too.
"We are saddened by the loss of Mr. Alan Gordon," said school Superintendent Leroy Seitz. "During his 15 years of service to the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education, he earned the admiration and respect of his colleagues and our district for his dedication, collegiality, enthusiasm, professionalism, sense of humor and hard work. He made invaluable contributions to our community and to the children of Parsippany-Troy Hills. He will be missed by all of us."
"You couldn't help but respect and like him," said Board President Frank Calabria. "He was a great guy who did great things. This is a great loss to Parsippany."
"Alan had the guts to ask the hard questions," Robert Crawford remembered. "He always followed up and chased down an issue to the point where everyone could understand it."
Board member Michael Strumolo said he was still in shock over the loss of his friend.
"He really loved working on the board and with schools," Strumolo said. "Alan was a real old friend, meant the world to me. He helped me get elected to council and worked on all my campaigns. This has hit me and a lot of people really hard."
One of those people is Mayor James Barberio, who lives near the Gordon home.
"I would be out mowing the lawn and Alan would drive by and say, 'C'mon Jamie, we need to go bike riding,'" he recalled. "We never had the time to make that happen, but he was a good neighbor and friend.
"Alan was really devoted to the fight against cancer. And such a likable guy, with a lovely wife and lovely children," Barberio said. "He will be really missed."
His mother, Renee Brown, remembered her son as a loving family man and musician.
"Oh, he loved music," she said. "He played drums in a klezmer band and it gave him such joy. There was a lot of joy in Alan's life and he gave joy to a lot of people."
Gordon is survived by his wife Elsa and daughters Erika and Ariel; his mother Renee Brown; siblings Arthur Gordon, Scott Gordon and Jody Youell; and mother-in-law Adela Dubovy.
A gravesite service was held for Gordon Sunday afternoon at New Montefiore Cemetery in Springfield Gardens, N.Y.