Former Newport Mayor David S. Gordon dies at 83

Friday, November 19, 2021

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David Gordon, the highly respected former Newport mayor and retired banker, died on November 18, 2021 at the age of 83. He bravely won battles against lung cancer and lymphoma, but brain cancer came unexpectedly and quickly claimed his life. Married for 56 years, he leaves his wife Linda, the love of his life and best friend.

David was mayor of Newport from 1996 to 2000 and city councilor from 1994 to 1996. He has been active throughout the city with many non-profit organizations, including: the Newport Public Library Board of Trustees and the president and treasurer of the Friends of the Library; the Naval War College Foundation, trustee and vice-president; Newport Hospital, Administrator and Newport Hospital Foundation, Vice President; Rhode Island Foundation Newport County Fund, Advisory Board; Newport Historical Society, Board of Directors; Citizen Advisory Committee, Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the Town of Newport, Economic Development Subcommittee, Chairman; Fort Adams Foundation, Board of Directors; Newport Art Museum, Treasurer, Board of Directors; Newport Restoration Foundation, Board of Directors; Newport County Preservation Society, Board of Directors; Stanford White Casino Theater, catering committee; the University of Virginia Conference of Mayors on Urban Planning; Newport School Committee Chair, Strategic Plan, Newport Public Schools Planning Team and Action Team; Thompson Middle School Fundraising Campaign, Co-Chair; Community College of Rhode Island Foundation (Newport) Fundraising Steering Committee; Education Committee of the Year; Newport County Child and Family Services Administrator; Potter League, Fundraising Campaign Steering Committee; University of Rochester, member of the New England Regional Cabinet; and the St. Michael’s Country Day School Board of Directors.

By the time he left municipal government, the Newport Daily News said he “had won the gratitude of the community for an outstanding record of public service. He helped establish a forward-looking program and advanced policies that were fiscally sound and used the power of his office to build consensus for better schools, better development, and rational policies to deal with issues ranging from fundraising from garbage to tourism. Newport is a better city because of its leadership.

As mayor, working with City Council, he was very proud of the following accomplishments: Leading the $ 7.5 million renovation and expansion of the Newport Public Library with 50% state funding and 50% from private foundations, thus costing taxpayers nothing. Leading the effort to expand the deteriorating Thompson Middle School while preserving the historic facade, which, like the library, was a first to gain support from private foundations. The North End development plan launched for housing improvement and economic expansion, ultimately attracting the CIRB to integrate a campus in Newport. Lead the movement to establish open spaces and recreational neighborhoods in the Ocean Avenue area and purchase land on Almay Pond, as well as expand the Historic District to include Ocean Avenue and Rose Island . Leading the Edgehill Alcohol Treatment Center Private Purchase Assistance Initiative preventing the commercialization of 50 acres of open space and enabling the establishment of the SWF Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation of domestic animals in endangered and is now affiliated with the institution’s Smithsonian Biodiversity Preservation Project. Facilitate local, state and federal support to enable the Newport Shipyard to be financially viable and to become a major marine facility supporting Newport as a world-class yachting center.

He has been the recipient of numerous awards and is very proud of the Department of the Navy’s Meritorious Public Service Award. This year David received the Hope Funds for Cancer Research Tiedemann Prize for Courage. Other citations include the Volunteers in Newport Education (VINE) Certificate of Appreciation for Volunteer Service to Newport Public Schools, the Newport Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force Community Leadership Award, the Community Service Award from the Newport County NAACP Branch, the Thompson Middle School Certificate of Appreciation for time and effort spent with students, and the Friend of Education Award from the Newport Public Education Foundation .

Prior to moving to Newport in 1987, he was Vice President of Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in New York. A graduate of the University of Rochester, he attended the American Military Academy. He also attended and received certificates from the Dartmouth College Graduate School of Credit and Financial Management at the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration and the Executive Program at the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Carnegie-Mellon University.

David was born January 31, 1938 in Rochester, NY, the son of the late Dahlia Feldman and the late Theodore Gordon, both of Rochester. He leaves a brother, Richard, of Hartford, Johns Island, FL and Newport, and a sister, F. Susan Becker, of Sarasota, FL. A younger brother, Robert, died before him. He also leaves behind a wonderful daughter, Jessica Gordon Ryan of Southport, CT, and three grandchildren, Rebecca Hart Ryan, Christopher James Ryan and Alexander Gordon Ryan.

An avid reader and passionate about history with a particular interest in military history, he will be remembered for his kindness, wisdom, diplomacy and humor. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

According to his wishes, there will be no funeral or public ceremony.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Foundation of the Naval War College, Luce Hall, 686 Cushing Road, Newport, RI 02841; and the Newport Public Library, 300 Spring Street, Newport, RI 02840.

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