‘Rollie’ left his mark
Post Independent Staff
NEW CASTLE ” Friends and family describe him as a hard-working, hard-headed man, but longtime New Castle resident Roland E. “Rollie” Gordon will also be remembered for what he gave to his community.
Rollie died on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Glen Valley Care Center in Glenwood Springs. He was 90.
“He was a very strong-willed man,” said his son, Bob Gordon, also of New Castle. “He always had his own agenda. There was a right way, a wrong way and Rollie’s way.”
Rollie was born on Oct. 14, 1916, to Elmer Lorenzo and Ida Mae (Fowler) Gordon in Eagle Falls, Iowa.
He married Shirley Ione Cummings on Aug. 16, 1941, and they raised four children.
During his life, Rollie spent time working around the country doing various jobs in 26 states, including operating a sheep ranch in South Dakota.
“He had a sheep ranch in Hot Springs, S. D., when he was called to the military,” Bob said. “And it was right before lambing season.”
Although Rollie received a farmer’s deferment, he ended up losing his ranch because he’d lost his crop.
At one point, he settled in Wyoming, where he did ranching and rodeo.
So what brought him to New Castle?
“Nobody knows,” Bob said.
Bob was only 3 years old when the family came to New Castle in 1948, but says he remembers they rented a small house and he and his siblings had to sleep on the floor.
“(Rollie) started with absolutely nothing,” Bob said.
But Rollie changed all that with a lot of hard work and determination.
In 1955, he established R.E. Gordon Construction Co. He worked long, hard hours, mainly in Aspen, but built many homes in Glenwood Springs.
“He worked seven days a week, nine hours a day for years,” Bob recalled. “I remember growing up that the construction business would just shut down in the winter time. People would save every dime they could. We saw a lot of people come and a lot of people go. But Rollie was still there.”
Rollie was instrumental in getting a recreation center built in New Castle in 1957.
“He wanted to do it for the kids,” Bob said. “He had four kids, so he was interested.”
Steve Rippy, New Castle native, and former longtime mayor and town administrator, said Rollie was the type of man who wanted to see things done.
“He was the kind of guy who wanted to see that certain things in town were accomplished,” Rippy said. “He spent a lot of time and effort in seeing that the recreation center was built.”
Rollie also donated land he owned to the town for a park off Seventh Street, which allowed the town to build a pedestrian bridge from the park to Riverside Middle School. The park was dedicated in 2004 as the Rollie Gordon Park, as was a nearby trail.
Rollie also served as past president of the local Carpenters Union, and from 1955 to 1959, he was the fire chief for the New Castle Volunteer Fire Department.
“The fire department used to sponsor bingo games and the money from that went towards the recreation center,” Bob said.
In the past year, Rollie lived in the Glen Valley Care Center in Glenwood Springs.
“He hated every minute of it,” Bob admitted. “He wanted to come home. But he’d suffered a series of strokes.”
Despite his death, Rollie Gordon will still be remembered in New Castle as a strong-headed, giving man who wanted to get things done.
“What I will remember is that he definitely was his own man,” Bob said.
A funeral service was held for Rollie on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the First Baptist Church of New Castle.
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