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Kurtiss J. Gordon (1940–2008)

Gordon was an astronomer by training, who changed careers and became a developer of scientific imaging applications.

Published onOct 05, 2022
Kurtiss J. Gordon (1940–2008)

Kurtiss J. Gordon, a retired program manager with the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) with the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMA), died at home on December 26, 2008 of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Gordon was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, the son of Kurt Jacoby and Jeannette (Goldstein) Gordon.

Gordon received his B.S. in physics from Antioch College in 1964 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Michigan in 1966 and 1969, respectively. After completing his degree, he was a research associate at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville Virginia (1969–1970). In 1970, he accepted a faculty position as assistant professor, later rising to associate professor, in the Five College Astronomy Department at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.

In 1985, Gordon decided on a career change and transitioned to a senior postdoctoral research associate position in the Department of Computer and Information Science at UMA, the forerunner of the campus’ Computer Science Department. In 1985, he received his M.S.E.C.E. in Computer Systems through the department.

In 1987, Gordon was appointed coordinator of the scientific imaging applications at the UMA University Computing Center, which later became OIT. When he retired from OIT in 2003, he was director of Information Management Services.

Gordon was author and co-author of a number of computing research papers. He also was a member of several professional societies, including the American Astronomical Society, the Association of Computing Machinery, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Sigma Xi. He became secretary of the UMA chapter of Sigma Xi in 1986.

Locally, Gordon was active in the Valley Light Opera and had appeared in nearly every performance since 1976. He also served as the VLO’s webmaster and clerk of the board. He was also an avid member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Amherst, serving on the finance and music committees, treasurer and a member of the choir.

Gordon was survived by his wife, Rebecca Courtney (Parks) and three children Geoffrey, Sara and Cynthia, and a sister.

Adapted and reproduced with permission from The University of Massachusetts Amherst News Office.

At the time of writing, no photograph of the decedent could be located. If you’re able to provide one, please contact the HAD Vice-Chair.

For more information see Gordon’s AstroGen entry.

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