Gordon L. Clouser died peacefully at home the afternoon of May 14, 2021, with his wife, Marcia, at his side. Through five years of dealing with lung cancer and then strokes, Gordon continued to live positively through faith, fellowship, friends, family, and all the fun the Four Corners' paradise offers to those who seek joy and harmony. He lived long and well.
Born in Roswell, NM, February 4, 1940, Gordon grew up in Norman, OK, the eldest of three brothers. His father, H. Gordon Clouser, died in his aircraft while seeding a Bermuda Triangle hurricane off Florida: Gordon was only 12 years old but the seed was planted to become a pilot. A the University of Oklahoma, he obtained a degree in Aeronautical and Space Engineering. He never missed a football game and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega.
Northrop Corporation hired him to work on spacecraft design six months before his USAF pilot training commenced in Lubbock, TX, in December 1963. On Marcia's birthday, August 9, 1964, the two were wed on a weekend in Lafayette, IN. Since they met five years earlies as YMCA Camp of the Rockies' summer employees at Estate Park, a Colorado home was always Gordon's retirement destination.
Assignments across the country and overseas followed F-105 fighter training in La Vegas, NV. On May 10, 1966, on a mission out of Thailand, Gordon's aircraft was downed by enemy ground fire. He bailed out, was picked up, and medically evacuated home to North Carolina to recover. During his next assignment at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, he thrived and was recognized as a Pacific outstanding young officer. The timing was such that the squadrons spent months on alert in South Korea, following the North Korean seizure of the Navy's Pueblo ship. In 1972 in the F-4 Phantom, Gordon returned to Thailand. On this tour, he was credited with a MIG (it was on his tail; he pulled up sharply before a mountain; the MIG did not.)
Gordon attended Command and Staff College and Air War College on tours in Montgomery, AL, also receiving a master's degree in Public Administration from Auburn University. A Pentagon assignment in between gave Gordon a taste of Europe when he served on a NATO fighter requirements committee and made regular trips to Belgium.
The Clousers left home in 1980 for seven years in Europe, moved five times, and nurtured international relationships formed in Germany, Turkey, and Belgium. Career highlights there included serving as Group Commander at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey; Vice Commander of the 86th Wing at Ramstein, Germany; and Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe at Mons, Belgium. Flying hours were few but exciting in the F-16.
Four years at Langley AFB, VA, rounded out Gordon's career at Tactical Air Command Headquarters, before his fall 1990 retirement as a colonel. His combat recognition includes two silver stars, three distinguished flying crosses, sixteen air medals, and the Purple Heart.
Life's next chapter was Durango, as fast as Gordon could get there. A building school and home construction courses set the stage for him to find the spot to build his dream home - then working daily four-plus years on this labor of love. Along the way, he continued his lifelong Methodist membership, served as a lay leader, went on mission trips, and taught Disciple Bible Study classes. He was part of a trio who founded his beloved Tillers of the Soil, a church study group that digs into questions not addressed by religious or secular institutions, in search of biblical truths. Major research on his part resulted in his writing a scholarly book on the historical Jesus. Gordon volunteered at the Methodist Thrift Shop and served the Board as president. He was a life member of the Air Force Association, Daedalians (military honorary), Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, and the Four Corners Chapter of the Military Officers' Association of America, which he served as president. A 30-year member of the Durango Rotary Club, he presided as president, then served as secretary for over a decade. He trained to join Marcia in Red Cross volunteer casework for the Four Corners, verifying military members' family emergencies so that service personnel could come home when needed, and he also served on the Red Cross board.
For fun, Gordon did jeep tour guiding in the San Juans, taking tourists and friends to the "top of the world," which led to his becoming a Rail Ranger. The Forest Service educates the Rangers riding the DSNGRR trains to Silverton, to answer questions about the local history and terrain. Ushering at the Community Concert Hall and Music in the Mountains offered premium performance rewards. Gordon was a strong supporter of the Durango Public Library Friends, making the first book categories' signs on dowels to present well-organized book sales.
One last Durango gem is the Community Thanksgiving Dinner; coordinating 250 volunteers into place and arranging organized dinner deliveries was a month-long, exhilarating task for years. Another lifelong dream since a "70s' military deployment to Alaska was to see bears there live, river fishing for salmon. This Gordon enjoyed in 2019 on a final cruise to his second favorite state. He liked to ski, golf, play bridge, travel the world, and savor everything about SW CO.