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A.L. Moore-Grimshaw Mortuaries Bethany Chapel

710 West Bethany Home Road, Phoenix, AZ

OBITUARY

Frank X. Gordon, Jr.

January 9, 1929January 6, 2020

Retired Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, the Hon. Frank X. Gordon Jr. passed away on January 6, 2020 at the Beatitudes Retirement Community in Phoenix where he lived with his wife Joan. Frank passed away 3 days before his 91st birthday. Frank was an only child, born to Frank X. Gordon and Lucille (Gburek) Gordon on January 9, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. Both of his parents were the children of Polish immigrants. The family moved to Kingman, Arizona in the summer of 1929 when young Frank was only 6 months old. His father, an attorney, purchased a title company and also became an insurance agent and became one of the most respected lawyers not only in Mohave County but in the State of Arizona. Frank Jr. grew up in Kingman when the streets were either graded dirt or gravel. In 1939, he and a friend saw a large black touring car pull up in the street. Clark Gable got out and asked the boys where the Methodist Church was. The boys directed him to the church and witnessed the celebrated marriage of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Frank attended grammar school and high school in Kingman. He graduated in 1947 from Mohave County Union High School, the only high school at the time in Mohave County. Frank graduated from Stanford University in 1951 with a major in sociology and a minor in psychology. While at Stanford, Frank met the love of his life, Joan Gipe, on a blind double date in Fresno, California where Joan was attending Fresno State College. They were married in the Stanford Chapel on September 17, 1950, just before the start of Frank’s senior year in college. Frank obtained his law degree from the University of Arizona, graduating in 1954. The Gordon’s sons Frank X. Gordon III (Trey) and Scott Kenneth Gordon were born in Tucson while Frank was attending the University of Arizona Law School. The Gordons moved to Kingman after Frank graduated from law school. Frank practiced law there with his father from 1954 to 1962. Their daughter Candy was born in Kingman in 1956. In 1954, the firm of “Gordon & Gordon” was the only multi-person law firm in Mohave County. Frank was appointed to the Superior Court in Mohave County in May of 1962 by Governor Fannin to complete the term of Charles P. Elmer, who had resigned because of ill health. Frank had to run for election in September of that same year. Frank was elected and served as a Superior Court judge in Mohave County for 13 years, from 1962 to 1975. The Gordon’s son Scott died in Kingman in 1973 of a heart infection at the age of 19. In 1975, Governor Raul Castro appointed Frank to the Arizona Supreme Court. Frank and Joan moved to Phoenix. From 1975 to 1987, Frank was an Associate Justice and then Vice Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. Frank served as Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court from 1987 to 1992. His first project was to create the Commission on the Courts. He appointed a 150-member commission to make an in depth study of the courts in Arizona. The challenge to modernize the court system in Arizona was eagerly accepted and diligently pursued by all Commission members. Before Frank left the court, 80% of the Commission’s recommendations had been accomplished, either by court rule or legislative enactment. During Frank’s term as Chief Justice, The Arizona House of Representatives voted to impeach then Governor Evan Mecham. As Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, Frank presided over the six week trial of Governor Mecham before the Arizona Senate. Channel 8 of Arizona State University filmed the proceedings. Frank became a hero and star admired throughout the state for his calm, even hand and his fairness. The senators returned a verdict of guilty against Mecham on 2 of 3 counts, with only a few senators voting not guilty. After retiring from the Arizona Supreme Court, Frank joined the Phoenix firm of Roush, McCracken & Guerrero. In 1994, Frank was asked by the U.S. State Department to be part of a team of two lawyers to visit the country of Belarus, to meet with a committee of their Parliament, to evaluate their constitution and to make suggestions that might change their country from a totalitarian socialist state to a democracy. In 2006, Frank was asked to join a program called People to People Ambassadors of the American Bar Association. He and Joan spent 2 weeks in China. His team met with lawyers, judges, members of chambers of commerce and embassy officials discussing the “rule of law” in China and progress being made. In 2016, Frank’s autobiography From A Boy With A Horse To A Man With A Gavel was published. On the back cover of the book Frank said: “I have had a wonderful, remarkable and rewarding life. I have had the greatest gifts that God could have given me – good health, wonderful parents, the unconditional love of a wife whose beauty and intellect I have seen no equal in this world, children who have grown into adults who have solid marriages and who are respected in the community in which they live, grandchildren who have given me great pleasure and will in the future. What more can a man ask for?” Frank is survived by his wife Joan, his children Trey and Candy, 3 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and many friends. His character and honesty earned him the respect of his fellow judges and lawyers and the citizens of the State of Arizona.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to UMOM Homeless Shelter 3333 E. Van Buren St., Phx. Az. 85008; The Beatitudes Campus 1610 W. Glendale Ave. 85021; First United Methodist Church 5510 N. Central Ave. Phx. Az. 85013 or The Mohave Museum of History and Art 400 West Beale St. Kingman, Az. 86401. Graveside services to be held on Friday Jan. 17th at noon at Mountain View Cemetery in Kingman, Az.

Services

  • Visitation Monday, January 13, 2020
  • Funeral Service Monday, January 13, 2020
  • Burial Friday, January 17, 2020

Memories

Frank X. Gordon, Jr.

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Lana Keller-Robinett

January 13, 2020

I will never forget The Honorable Frank X. Gordon, Jr. He performed my adoption to Grover & Juanita Keller when I was 5 years old. I am a Hualapai Indian from northwest Arizona & the Keller's are a Caucasian family. My adoption was not a popular thing to do in 1964 and my parents & their children were told not to adopt me because it's not the right thing to do. They didn't care about the color of my skin, they loved me as their own. I had been in their family since I was a few days old in 1959. Judge Gordon saw that great love despite the opposition.

The day of my adoption, we climbed the historic stairs of the Kingman courthouse and waited to see The Honorable Frank X. Gordon, Jr. When it was time, he met with me first in his office. He lifted me up to the bench because I was too short. He visited with me about my lace socks, black/white saddle Oxford shoes and my new puppy dress! He asked me personal questions about my parents and their children and how they helped or cared for me. Then he knelt down in front of me and asked if I would like to live with them and if I loved my family to always wear their Keller name? I said yes! He performed the adoption.

I am 60 years old and that memory is vivid in my mind. Every time I enter the Mohave County Courthouse on Pine Street in Kingman, Arizona, I feel a deep sense of pride, honor and respect for The Honorable Frank X. Gordon, Jr. It brings tears to my eyes and such joy to my heart. It was a thrill to personally tell him this face to face in 1986 when I saw him walking about Kingman. He hugged me and said he remembered that historic day. His ruling forever altered the course of my life and I have lived a blessed life because of it.

I have loved him dearly all these years and I shall never forget him, his kindness, his concern over my well-being, and how safe he made me feel.

My deepest condolences to Mrs. Gordon, Trey, Candy and Family. May the peace and comfort of the Lord God uphold you.

Lori and Roger Peck

January 13, 2020

Roget and I learned of Frank's passing from his beloved wife, Joan, the day after Frank's passing and of course were so saddened and heartbroken as you can imagine. We were so blessed and fortunate to have spent countless trips together (Cabo Mexico, SanDiego, Lake Powell....) and those memories will always remain with us and in our hearts. We are putting together a photo album to present to Joan ad a keepsake of those wonderful trips and memories. Frank was a gentleman, gentle man and a beacon of light and will be forever missed. Our hearts go out to Joan and each and every family member to whom Frank loved and cherished! 💞

Doug Lewis

January 12, 2020

The first time I met Frank was at a golf match in which his grandson,Scott aka Bud was playing
I had been invited to join them by Candy and big Scott.
Big Scott shadowed his son. Candy and Joan paired off to talk about mother and daughter things. That left Frank and me. I admit I was a bit in awe because I followed the Mecham trial and truly admired how he carried himself during it
Well I soon discovered that Frank was one of the most unassuming,down to earth men I had ever met. I also discovered he loved to tell stories! I got an 18 hole lesson - not about Frank but the history and changes in Arizona he had seen. Some of them you would never read in print. It was the most wonderful round of golf I ever had and a memory I will keep forever
Thank you Frank

Charleen Greer

January 12, 2020

I had the privilege of being among his first law clerks at the Supreme Court. That was the greatest year of my legal career. I learned everything I know about being an honorable lawyer from him. He was an amazing judge and person. I came to admire and love him and his wonderful wife Joan. For many years his law clerks gathered at a yearly dinner to honor him. The Judge performed the marriage ceremony for me and my husband using a memorable liturgy he wrote himself . One of my greatest honors was when he attended and spoke at my retirement party from the Salt River Indian Community. The State will never see his likes again.

Supervisor Jean Bishop

January 12, 2020

From A Boy With A Horse ~ To A Man With A Gavel

Frank X. Gordon was an amazing and highly respected man that I have admired and respected my entire public service career.

His autobiography tells the story of growing up in Kingman and living his life to the fullest. Kingman is proud of his accomplishments and his legacy will live on.

He conducted himself as a true statesman, an honor to the bench and to the entire legal profession. His life was fully lived and his roles were many.

Sincere condolences to Joan, Trey, Candy, and many friends in Kingman and the entire state of Arizona.

SHANNON MAHON DURHAM

January 11, 2020

Justice Gordon was a great teacher and mentor when I began my Social Work career in Kingman. I count myself fortunate to have learned from him and worked with him. Gordon family please accept my condolences.

Val LeClair

January 11, 2020


My favorite memory of Frank Gordon: What a fun day we had with Candy, Scott, Frank and many others at the lake in the late 70’s. It was the 4th of July so the beach was extremely crowded. With our large group, it was impossible to find enough sand for all of us to be together. Suddenly, Frank noticed a large tarp being held down with several coolers, in what appeared to be someone “reserving” the space. After asking around, it was discovered this tarp had been there since early morning and no one had shown up since. Frank and several attorneys in our group decided to roll up the tarp and used their coolers to hold it all in place. We proceeded to lay out our belongings and began the party. Over an hour later, a large boat came barreling up to the waters edge with what appeared to be a group of intoxicated occupants. They were belligerent after finding their tarp rolled up and looked like they were ready to fight. Frank very calmly explained saving space was not allowed, as the beach was public property. They started yelling they were going to call their lawyers and sue everyone of us. Frank quietly removed his wallet, as did the attorneys in our party, and proceeded to attempt to hand out their business cards! The looks on these guys’ faces were absolutely priceless! After they stomped around awhile, they picked up their things and stumbled back to their boat. Then Frank suggested one of the attorneys call the lake patrol to report their CA boat driven by men “under the influence.” Such a FUN day! Thanks, Frank, for the memories. RIP

Jess Moreno

January 11, 2020

My most vivid memory of Joan and Frank involved the frequent trips to/from your summer home in Munds Park. So glad when those trips ceased and you both were in the safety of the Beatitudes. Our deepest regrets for Frank's loss. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Joan, should you need anything, please don't hesitate to ask and am still working on your Christian Brothers Brandy.
Our sincerest thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Best Regards,
Jess, Beatitudes Bartender, and Rosemary Moreno.

Deirdre Sparling

January 11, 2020


In 1983, my first of 24 years as a staff attorney at the Arizona Supreme Court, I hosted an employees holiday party in my home. Justices Gordon, Feldman and Cameron came. No one still there towards the end of the evening can forget how Justices Gordon and Feldman so wonderfully entertained us by getting into a friendly competition telling ever more humorous stories from their lives and careers. Justice Gordon, in addition to being an extraordinary gentleman and jurist, was a great raconteur.

Mark Rubin

January 11, 2020

Justice Gordon and I served together for a couple of years on the Board of the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education. fka the Arizona Bar Foundation. He showed up; he was engaged and delightful, and as modest as could be about his many prior accomplishments. RIP!

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY