February 22, 1923 – November 16, 2020
Samuel J. Gordon, 97, formerly of Storrs, died Monday, Jan. 16 in Tacoma, WA. He did not have COVID -19. Sam had moved West in 2015 where he lived with his daughter, Susan, and son-in-law David Thureson.
Born in Norwich to David and Minnie Gordon, he was youngest of four brothers who grew to adulthood. None survive him. Sam was a devoted husband to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2005, and steadfast parent to Susan and her late brother Robert.
Sam was a proud 1940 graduate of Norwich Free Academy, a WW II veteran who served with the 1054th Corps of Engineers in England and France, a fund-raiser for what is now the Jewish Federations of North America and a member of Congregation Brothers of Joseph in Norwich. In his younger years, he competed in pistol shooting competitions with the Willimantic Gun Club. As an elder, he enjoyed Wii bowling at the Mansfield Senior Center.
After WWII, he worked in his father’s business. The American Waste and Metal Co. was rooted in the resale of scrap, but the availability of military surplus gear prompted a change in direction. Willimantic’s Surplus Center was launched in 1947 and over the following four-plus decades the eclectic retail emporium was a magnet for Main Street shoppers. Sam started out selling fatigues, Army blankets and chinos, but it wasn’t long before he added sporting goods, including guns and ammo. Plus: work clothes and boots, hardware, paint, sneakers, garden tools, toilet paper, and for a time, even toys. The popularity of the place and its unique inventory was a testament to Sam’s entrepreneurial skills.
Later on, Sam opened another Main Street business: Office Furniture Warehouse, which sold used equipment. He retired in 2000 and donated his building to the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry, which is still headquartered there.
In addition to his daughter and son-in-law, Sam is survived by a grandson, Robert Thureson, all living in Eatonville, WA. A graveside ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, at the Brothers of Joseph Cemetery, 38 Route 12, Preston. For more information, contact Church & Allen Funeral Service in Norwich. In lieu of flowers, donations in Sam’s memory may be made to your favorite charity.
Graveside Funeral Service
Friday, November 20, 2020
November 25, 2020
Dear Susan and Family,
My deepest sympathy to you in the loss of your Dad, Sam.
Sam's donation of the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry's building was one of the most generous and enduring donations we have ever received. His interest in the building, and in those WAIM serves, lasted many years beyond the initial donation. Sam would often stop by to see how things were going, and I'm guessing, to check up on us! I've missed that.
Sam has left a lasting legacy in our community and I am grateful that I had the chance to know him.
November 23, 2020
Dear Susan and Family,
Sam was truly a pillar of our community, a generous man who never showcased how much he contributed and gave of himself. He will be fondly remembered.
With my sympathy,
November 21, 2020
My sympathies go out to Sam's loving family. As the Senior Management Assistant at ACCESS I was fortunate to work with and make friends with Sam and his wife Ruth. He was a kind and generous man and was always willing to lend an ear as well as a hand. I have many fond memories of Sam and will lovingly remember his asking, "What are we going to have to eat?" The definition of a "hero" should always include "Sam Gordon", because he was truly a hero among us. You will always have a special place in my heart. Watch over us from above dear friend.
November 20, 2020
I remember Sam and his wife Ruth. First from his store on Main St, Willimantic Surplus Center but also for his kindness and generosity to the town. He will be remembered. Rest in peace
November 20, 2020
My brother worked for Sam in the 50's. I can remember Sam always busy at the store, kinda loud and helping customers. I was about 5 than, and he made a impression on me, RIP Sam