Colin Gordon: In Memoriam (1935 - 2005)

Colin G. Gordon passed away peacefully on 29 July 2005, after a two-year battle with cancer.

The loss of our mentor and friend fills us with deep sadness. He will be dearly missed by us and the acoustics, vibration, and music communities that he served so well during his long and productive life. He was a vibrant, energetic, and humorous man who engaged everything from the positive.

Colin had the foresight to transition his company to his employees five years ago, including the leadership and management to Michael Gendreau and Hal Amick. Although he stayed active as an advisor and Board Member, the transition allowed Colin to spend the last several years of his life in semi-retirement.

Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on February 25, 1934, Colin grew up in Ayr on the southwestern coast and attended the 800-year-old Ayr Academy along with his siblings. There and within his musical family, he learned his first great love: playing both classical music and traditional Scots tunes on the violin. He also sang many roles in the school’s Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and as an adult he was a member of the small vocal ensemble The Ayr Singers. A party (or ceilidh in Scots Gaelic) at Colin’s home always included music, dancing, and recitations by family members and neighbors. His New Year’s Eve ceilidh was a tradition enjoyed by many.

At the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde, Colin earned a B.S. cum laude in electrical engineering. This set him on the path to his lifelong career in industrial acoustics, in which he focused on the control of noise and vibration problems in buildings, electrical substations, airports, and traffic.

He first came to the United States in the 1960s to join Bolt Beranek and Newman, the principal developers of the engineering science of acoustics, and he worked in Massachusetts and California. In the early 1970s he went back to Britain to help set up the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton, England, and continued to push out the boundaries of acoustical knowledge. Returning to the United States in 1975, he rejoined BBN in Southern California. In 1990, he moved from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay area to set up his own consultancy.

In addition to his acoustical work, Colin continued to play music. In Southern California, he founded the Scottish Fiddlers of Los Angeles, a group still going strong after 25 years. In Northern California, he founded the Peninsula Scottish Fiddlers, now entering its sixteenth year.

No Scottish fiddler’s career is complete without accompanying Royal Scottish Country Dances. For 25 years, Colin was the fiddler for the Los Angeles-based Thistle Band for 25 years, and played for dances all over the U.S. and Canada. He also competed in and judged many North American Scottish fiddling competitions.

Some of the letters and emails received by the firm after his passing spoke of his humanity and demeanor as much as his technical skills. One said that "any meeting was a more pleasant place simply because he was there." Another spoke of his ability to "light up a room." One of his competitors—also a close friend—summed it up thus: "He was a giant." He will be sorely missed by his wife and soul-mate Shauna, his family, and the many of us whose lives he touched in many ways.

The administration and Board of Directors of Colin Gordon & Associates will carry on with the innovative work Colin started many years ago, and in the same spirit of creativity and engineering excellence you have come to expect.

Michael Gendreau, President
Hal Amick, Vice President