Outdoorsman and musician remembered | VailDaily.com

Outdoorsman and musician remembered

J.K. Perry
Special to the DailyDoug Gordon stands with his son Leland Gordon, who graduated from California State University, Chico last year. Doug Gordon, 56, died Saturday in a rafting accident on the Eagle River in Edwards.

EDWARDS ” Leland Gordon saw his father Doug Gordon for the final time last year during his graduation from California State University, Chico.

“He was just so giddy and bubbling with pride it was a sight to see,” said Leland Gordon, 22, adding his father hoped his son might become a baseball reporter.

Almost exactly a year after his son’s graduation, Gypsum resident Doug Gordon, 56, died in a rafting accident on a popular boating stretch of the Eagle River known as the “Edwards Mile” near the Riverwalk shopping center.

The raft Doug Gordon and an unidentified man were in capsized when it hit a large wave during peak flows of the Eagle River, said Lt. Mike McWilliam of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Several kayakers pulled Doug Gordon to shore and performed CPR on him for a half hour, McWilliam said.

The exact cause of death is not yet known, pending the results of an autopsy.

On Tuesday, family members recalled Doug Gordon as an experienced rafter who also eagerly pursued fishing, skiing, surfing and other outdoor activities.

Doug Gordon, who always wore a mustache, grew up in Redwood City, Calif., with six siblings. His parents, and the nearby mountains and ocean, inspired Doug Gordon’s outdoor persona, sister Liz Filitor said.

“Doug was an avid outdoorsman,” Filitor said. “He loved the mountains. Colorado offered that, so that’s why he moved to the area.”

He left California 13 years ago looking for a fresh start, Leland Gordon said.

“Moving to Colorado was one of the best things he ever did for himself,” he said.

Doug Gordon settled in Red Cliff, Eagle and Gypsum, addresses at which Filitor said she remembered him residing. Doug Gordon brought to the valley his passion for music, which began while listening to the Beatles in California. He took up bluegrass music, playing the guitar and mandolin as well as singing.

“It was definitely his form of expression,” Leland Gordon said.

He was an independent individual, working as a self-employed accountant, Filitor said.

“He pretty much lived life on his own terms,” Filitor said.

Despite Doug Gordon’s independent nature, Leland Gordon said his father recommitted himself to his family in the final years of his life, increasing his visits to his mother in Georgia and making plans with his son.

But throughout Doug Gordon’s life, his attention was often focused on his son, Filitor said.

“He imparted a lot of good qualities into his son,” Filitor said. “Lee was really the focus of his life in the last 22 years. Lee is a very level-headed, calm-thinking, mature young man who, faced with what he’s just been faced with, has dealt with a lot of thoughtfulness, and I saw that in Doug as well.”

Now, Leland Gordon is on his way to fulfilling his father’s aspirations. He writes articles for a minor league baseball team, something his father hoped might be a spring board into major league baseball.

“Baseball was a big part of our life,” Leland Gordon said.

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or jkperry@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado

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