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Remembering Bruce: A Memorial Service for Imagineer Bruce Gordon
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by Doug Marsh
November 16, 2007
Doug Marsh details the memorial held for Imagineer Bruce Gordon who passed away on November 6th. Included are comments by Tony Baxter, Jeff Kurtti and others.

Remembering Bruce
A Memorial Service for Imagineer Bruce Gordon
Monday, November 12, 2007

Imagineer, author and designer Bruce Gordon was remembered by family, colleagues, friends and fans at a memorial service held at the Church of the Recessional in Forest Lawn Memorial Park. On Monday, November 12, a crowd quietly gathered in front of the church, a beautiful recreation of an authentic English chapel. Sunlight filtered through the gnarled tree branches as people greeted each other and engaged in quiet conversation. Among the guests were Ron and Diane Disney Miller, author Howard Green, Imagineer Tony Baxter, Disney archivists Dave Smith and Robert Thieman, and composer Richard Sherman.

Despite the somber occasion, the sun was warm and the hilltop setting as lovely as any created for a Disney theme park. An odd note was struck when one guest pulled up in a Segway. The contrast with the ancient church couldnt have been more striking. As it was carried into the chapel, some in the crowd recalled that Bruce Gordon had indulged a lifetime interest in new technology.

Inside, the chapel was spare, but inviting. At the front of the church were an oil painting of Bruce, a spray of flowers, and an empty directors chair displaying the Apple computer logo. To the side there was a continuous display of slide images. Almost all were of Bruce, with friends and colleagues, as well as images of theme park projects, film and TV locations, and books. The room was soon filled with friends and admirers.

Author Jeff Kurtti welcomed all to the memorial on behalf of Bruces family. He first acknowledged the great loss not only to Bruces father and sister, but to a wider circle as well. He then promised that the day would not only introduce the assembled crowd to a few friends and colleagues, but to a wider picture of Bruce Gordon as well.

The first to share was Imagineer Tony Baxter. As he pulled out his notes, he said, I couldnt imagine how I could condense 25 years into ten minutes. He noted that he seldom spoke from notes, but wanted to be sure to include Bruces many accomplishments. He emphasized that Bruce Gordon was always more concerned with what he could accomplish, than who he was.

Baxter noted that, first and foremost, Bruce was an Imagineer, just as his license plate (MAJ NEER) always said. He pointed out that Bruce, a normally reticent fellow, would have been embarrassed by all the fuss, adding Forgive me Bruce we will talk about you.

The two met during the build up to the original EPCOT Center in Florida. Bruce was brought in to work on one of Tonys projects, the Imagination pavilion. Baxter, in a side note, mentioned that just as Walt Disney could conceive and build something as elaborate as his backyard trains, Bruce Gordon was one who could both orchestrate an idea, and then actually build it himself. This was true not only in his working life, but in his private life, as his constant tinkering with the family home attested.

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The next collaboration Baxter mentioned was on Disneylands new Fantasyland. After demolition was completed in the early 80s, Baxter wondered, What have we done? Bruce Gordon not only brought reassurance to the project, he added many delightful touches the plusses that made it a successful re-imagining of the happiest kingdom of them all.

I found the best partner I ever had, said Baxter. Bruce Gordon not only offered expert support and encouragement, he was also willing and able to sometimes say, Youre full of it! Thats a dumb idea!

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