Gordon Melvin Scherdnik Sr.
March 27, 1933 – January 2, 2021
Gordon was born to Melvin D. Scherdnik and Mary Eleanor (Albright) Scherdnik on March 27th, 1933 in Vancouver, WA. Gordon attended the original Washington Elementary School and Evergreen High School, where he received his high school sports letter for his participation in track and field. Hurdles and high jump were his main events.
Gordon enlisted in the US Navy at 17 years of age, effectively entering military service at the outbreak of the Korean War. He served aboard the transport ship USNS Aultman, transporting troops and supplies to the Korean peninsula, Guam, The Philippines, and Japan. He earned his rating as an Electrician’s Mate Third Class, and was decorated for his service in hostile waters. He was also recognized for his additional efforts to his fellow sailors as the ship’s projectionist, in an era when running a movie projector was both an art form and an essential morale booster during uncertain times. He fondly carried his nickname of “Smiley” while shipboard, due to his continuous good nature.
Upon Gordon’s discharge from the US Navy, he became a tankerman, transporting barges of liquid products along the length of the Columbia River. Later employment included Nalley’s Products and Voit Rubber Company. Gordon was the eldest of four siblings- his brother Roger who passed away in 2019, and his two sisters Gloria and Florence. After finishing his Navy enlistment, Gordon married Betty Ann Rutledge in 1955 at the First Methodist Church in Vancouver Washington. Their daughter, Denice Louise, was born in 1957. Their son, Gordon Melvin Scherdnik Junior “Gordy”, was born in 1961. Gordon has two remaining lifelong friends- Colin Scholl and Lew Marler, both residing in Vancouver, Washington. In 1964, Gordon was nearly killed and sustained life-altering injuries when he was struck by a drunk driver while riding a motorcycle. In spite of his compromised physical condition, he continued to hike, fish, and camp with his family and continue with his passion for vintage automobiles.
Gordon loved all animals and truly strove to see the best in all people. He loved his mother (Mary) with the deepest sense of devotion. She passed away when he was 9 years old, but she remained consistently present in his heart for his entire life. His wife Betty passed away in 1985, yet Gordon remained committed and loyal to her up until his passing. Gordon is survived by Denice Scherdnik (Morrison), Gordy Scherdnik, five grandchildren- Emily Scherdnik, Christopher Larson, Zachary Larson, Gabriel Larson, and Elijah Larson, and two great grandchildren Aiden Larson and Kegan Larson. His granddaughter Meghan Larson, who passed away in 1992, remains in spirit.
His younger days exemplified a zeal for life that is nearly unmeasurable. He ran fast, jumped high, and swam in oceans. In his later years spent in Longview Washington, he became a minimalist, enjoyed hard work and cared for stray animals that would seek him out for nurturing.
Gordon loved a corny joke, detested arrogance, and would always stop to help a stranded motorist, in spite of his own physical limitations. He played a guitar, sang beautifully, and laughed loudly. His sparkling steel blue eyes and strong hands will be missed by all that knew him so well. He taught us that life has no guarantees, that humility is strength of the soul, and in the end, love is all that matters.
A celebration of Gordon’s life will be scheduled after the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic has been brought under control.