Mary France Gordon, 1947-2015
Mary France Gordon was an employee of the National League of Cities for 23 years, and most recently served as Foundation Director as well as Program Director of NLC's Constituency Groups. She was the editor of countless NLC books, newsletters and guides, and was the first manager devoted to working exclusively with NLC Constituency Groups.
She began her career on April 20, 1992 as Manager of Enterprise Programs. In the course of her duties she served as liaison between NLC and Women in Municipal Government (WiMG). In January 1994, she began managing NLC's Constituency Groups on a part-time basis in addition to her enterprise program duties. Later that year, she became Manager of Constituency Groups and Member Programs, and in January 1998 she began to work exclusively with the Constituency Groups.
She received numerous awards throughout her extensive career at NLC, including the 2014 Outstanding Achievement award presented by NLC's Constituency Groups, an award from the Memphis City Council in recognition of outstanding contribution to the City of Memphis (the city also conferred on her the title of Honorary City Councilman on August 10, 2010), and a 2007 Mayoral Citation from the City of District Heights, Md., for her Outstanding Contributions to NLC and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO). NBC-LEO also has an award named after her, the Mary F. Gordon Distinguished Service Award.
Mary was an accomplished author and editor; she co-authored the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) special report “Addressing the Problems of Youth: Public Four-Year Colleges Respond” in 1989, as well as the AASCU guide “Assisting At-Risk Youth: A Guide to Programs at Public Colleges” in 1990.
Prior to joining NLC, Mary worked for the Peace Corps as a Desk Officer for the Kenya and Seychelles Island/African Region (1976-1981), as a Special Programs Administrator for The Washington Center (1981-1986), and as Director of the AASCU Office of Urban and Rural Affairs (1986-1992).
Mary passed away peacefully on Friday, April 17, 2015. She is survived by her long-time companion, Herman A. Cramer; her son, Ali P. Gordon; her daughter-in-law, Angelita B. Gordon; and her grandchildren, Kayla, Celine, Amelia, and Alina.
She is remembered fondly by her many family members, friends and colleagues. The following are just a sample of the many quotes, letters and In Memoriam statements NLC received after her passing.
"I recall her spirit - a spirit that made sure that every voice from leaders with diverse backgrounds were heard throughout the fabric of NLC; her spirit of kindness; her spirit of respect; and, most of all, the warming spirit and smile that she displayed daily. Even when we knew that things were difficult for her, she was the one consoling us, saying 'everything will be alright.'"
-Clarence Anthony, NLC CEO & Executive Director
"I am so very sorry to hear this news, and I know this is a deep and painful loss for you, for her family, friends and colleagues, and for the entire NLC community. Mary joined NLC just a few weeks after I began my state league career, and I experienced her kindness, warmth and strength from the start. We were all blessed to know her. Mary planted a lifetime's worth of love when she was with us, and that love will continue to flourish in our memories for years and years and years to come. This will be a very difficult time for NLC, and I am holding you all in my thoughts and prayers."
-Geoff Beckwith, Executive Director, Massachusetts Municipal Association
Farewell, Mary. We will miss you very much. But, as our dear colleague and friend, you live further in our hearts as a fountain of friendship. It feels sad to imagine that you will not be with us anymore. You were always a source of motivation, inspiration and trust in good times, and in bad times you always wore a smile and were there to support us. I will always remember and cherish our time working together (especially our adventures, and our endless love for handbag shopping). May your body and soul rest eternally in peace.
-Gail Remy, Director, NLC Membership Development
Funeral Services will be held on Monday, May 4, at 11am.
Joseph Gawler’s Funeral Home
5130 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20016
There will be a bus providing transportation to Mary's funeral services leaving from the front of the NLC office building on Monday, May 4th. The bus will depart by 10:15am to ensure a timely arrival. Services will begin at 11am, and will be officiated by Rev. Dr. Michael O. Thomas. A repass will immediately follow the services, and the bus will depart from the funeral home at 2:30pm to return to the NLC office building.
A burial will be held on Tuesday, May 5 at 11am at Lincoln Cemetery, 4001 Suitland Road, Suitland, Md. 20746.
Mary was an avid supporter of the humane treatment of animals. Contributions in her memory can be made to the Washington Animal Rescue League, 71 Oglethorpe Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20011.