The Honorable David S. Gordon

David Gordon, the well-respected former mayor of Newport and retired banker, died on November 18, 2021, at age 83. He courageously won battles with lung cancer and lymphoma but brain cancer arrived unexpectedly and quickly took his life. Married for 56 years he leaves his wife Linda, the love of his life and best friend.

David served as Newport Mayor from 1996 to 2000 and was a City Councilor at large from 1994 to 1996.  He was active throughout the city serving on many non-profit organizations, among them:  the Newport Public Library Board of Trustees and President and Treasurer of the Friends of the Library; the Naval War College Foundation, Trustee  and Vice Chair; Newport Hospital, Trustee and  Newport Hospital Foundation, Vice Chair; Newport County Fund of the Rhode Island Foundation, Board of Advisors; Newport Historical Society, Board of Directors; Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the City of Newport, Economic Development Subcommittee, Chairman; Fort Adams Foundation, Board of Trustees; Newport Art Museum, Treasurer, Board of Trustees; Newport Restoration Foundation, Board of Trustees; Preservation Society of Newport County, Board of Trustees; Stanford White Casino Theatre, Restoration Committee; the University of Virginia’s Mayors Conference on City Design; Newport School Committee Chairman, Newport Public Schools Strategic Plan, Planning Team and Action Team; Thompson Middle School Capital Campaign, Co-chairman; Community College of Rhode Island Foundation (Newport) Capital Campaign Steering Committee; IYRS Education Committee; Child and Family Services of Newport County Trustee; Potter League, Capital Campaign Steering Committee; University of Rochester, New England Regional Cabinet member; and the St. Michael’s Country Day School Board of Trustees. 

At the time he left city government, TheNewport Daily News said that he “earned the gratitude of the community for an exceptional record of public service…. He helped set a forward-looking agenda…and advanced policies that were fiscally sound and used the power of his office to build consensus for better schools, better development and rational policies to deal with problems ranging from garbage collection to tourism. Newport is a better city because of his leadership.”

As Mayor, working with the City Council, he was most proud of the following accomplishments: Leading the $7.5 million renovation and expansion of the Newport Public Library with 50% funding from the state and 50% from private foundations, thus costing tax payers nothing. Leading the effort to expand the deteriorating Thompson Middle School while preserving the historic façade, which, like the library was a first for securing support from private foundations. Initiating the North End Development Plan for improved housing and economic expansion, ultimately attracting CCRI to incorporate a Newport campus. Leading the move to establish Open Space and Recreation Districts in the Ocean Avenue area and to purchase land on Almay Pond, as well as to expand the Historic District to include Ocean Avenue and Rose Island. Leading the initiative to aid in the private purchase of the Edgehill alcoholic treatment center preventing the commercialization of 50 acres of open space and enabling the establishment of the SWF Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation of endangered domestic animals and is now affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution’s Biodiversity Preservation Project. Facilitating local, state, and federal support to allow the Newport Shipyard to be financially viable and become a major marine facility supporting Newport as world-class yachting center.

He was the recipient of many awards and is most proud of the Meritorious Public Service Award from the Department of the Navy. This year David was honored with the Hope Funds for Cancer Research Tiedemann Award for Courage. Other citations include Volunteers in Newport Education (VINE) Certificate of Appreciation for Voluntary Service to the Newport Public Schools, Newport Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force Community Leadership Award, Newport County NAACP Branch Community Service Award, Thompson Middle School Certificate of Appreciation for time and effort spent with students, and the Newport Public Education Foundation Friend of Education Award.

Before moving to Newport in 1987 he was a vice-president of Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in New York.  A graduate of the University of Rochester, he attended the U.S. Military Academy.  He also attended and received Certificates from the Dartmouth College Graduate School of Credit and Financial Management at the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration and Carnegie-Mellon University Graduate School of Industrial Administration Program for Executives.

David was born January 31, 1938, in Rochester, NY, the son of the late Dahlia Feldman and the late Theodore Gordon, both of Rochester.  He leaves a brother, Richard, of Hartford, Johns Island, FL, and Newport, and a sister, F. Susan Becker, of Sarasota, FL. A younger brother, Robert, predeceased him.  He also leaves a wonderful daughter, Jessica Gordon Ryan of Southport, CT, and three grandchildren, Rebecca Hart Ryan, Christopher James Ryan, and Alexander Gordon Ryan.

An avid reader and history buff with a special interest in military history, he will be remembered for his kindness, wisdom, diplomacy, and humor. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Per his wishes, there will be no funeral or public ceremony. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Naval War College Foundation, Luce Hall, 686 Cushing Road, Newport, RI 02841; and the Newport Public Library, 300 Spring Street, Newport, RI 02840.

This obituary originally appeared on O’Neill Hayes Funeral Home.

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