Richard Seymour Gordon, 81
July 22, 2006
Richard S. Gordon, professor emeritus at the Morrison
School of Agribusiness and Resource Management, Arizona State University,
died on Saturday, July 22, 2006, at his summer home in Rockport.
Dr. Gordon had a long and productive career as a
research biochemist, working in industry at the Monsanto Company for more
than 20 years, and then as a consultant and as a member of the faculty of
Arizona State University for another 25 years. His areas of expertise were
wide-ranging and included poultry science, animal nutrition, soil
conservation, government regulation of agribusiness, and the
re-establishment of native plants for both land reclamation and commercial
At the time of his death, Dr. Gordon was an active
member of the president of ASU's council on China. His main focus was on
bioremediation and development of environmentally and economically
sustainable food and agribusiness. In the Bohai, he helped establish the
first Chinese shrimp processing facility that met both FDA and USDA
standards; he worked with the Ministry of Agriculture on the development of
the "responsibility system", which freed Chinese food and agriculture
production from central planning quotas. He collaborated with China State
Farms on the development of processed products to upgrade quality and shelf
life for perishables.
Most recently, he had been one of the leaders in
developing a collaborative effort with Inner Mongolian University and the
Institute of Botany-Chinese Academy of Sciences to restore the badly
degraded grasslands of Inner Mongolia in a manner that is both economically
and environmentally sustainable. In recognition of his work in this
restoration area, the Institute of Botany-Chinese Academy of Sciences
appointed him honorary professor of the institute in 2003.
He taught courses in the Morrison School of
Agribusiness for many years until his retirement from active teaching in
He was known among the faculty and staff at ASU for
his dedication to graduate students and younger faculty. Right up until his
death, he was working on the re-establishment of contaminated mining lands
near Bisbee, Arizona. His work as the principal investigator on the Border
Woodland Recovery Project sought to re-establish native plants along the
salinated flood plain of the Colorado River.
He served as a visiting scholar at Harvard's John F.
Kennedy School of Government in 1979, where he edited and co-authored Issues
in Health Care Regulation (McGraw Hill, 1980). He also served as an adjunct
professor at the Washington University School of Medicine.
Over the span of several decades, Dr. Gordon
co-authored numerous teaching case studies and scholarly papers and was a
popular speaker and discussion leader at the Harvard Business School's
annual agribusiness seminar. In 1971, President Nixon appointed Dr. Gordon
to the White House Commission on Food, Nutrition and Health, where he served
under the chairmanship of Dr. Jean Mayer, former President of Tufts
Dr. Gordon's career at the Monsanto Company included
his tenure as director of research of the Agricultural Division and
corporate vice president in charge of the New Enterprises Division. One of
his early contributions in the 1950s at Monsanto was the development of
methionine hydroxy analogue (MHA), a still widely used feed additive for
"Dick Gordon was a driving force behind MHA," said Dr.
Fred Zienty, who directed research for the Organic Chemicals Division from
1947 to 1960. "He kept the idea alive within Monsanto and got MHA through
Under Dr. Gordon's leadership, the New Enterprises
Division brought out many innovative products in the late 1960s and early
1970s including AstroTurf and Puma (a banana-soy isolate soymilk). Also
under his research leadership, the Agricultural division developed Roundup,
a widely used herbicide. Dr. Gordon was well known throughout Monsanto for
an iconoclastic style that challenged the management of the St. Louis-based
company to enter new markets and to apply the company's scientific research
in new fields.
Dr. Gordon also led an active civic life. He brought
his knowledge and love of music to many years of service on the boards of
the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and to the Community Music School of
Webster University (formerly the St. Louis Conservatory and Schools for the
Arts or CASA). He also served on the Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church of
St. Louis, where he was a member of the church choir for many years.
At the time of his death, he was an active member of
the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Tempe, Ariz.
An amateur violinist, he played actively until his
death at the age of 81.
He was also a member of many scientific and cultural
organizations including the Cosmos Club of Washington, the Tavern Club of
Chicago, the Chemists Club of New York City, and the National Academy of
Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Gordon earned his bachelor's degree at the
University of Rochester, his master's of medical science at Harvard, where
he was a Harvard Fellow, and his doctorate at MIT. He was born in New York
City, the son of Jacques and Ruth Gordon. His father Jacques was
concertmaster for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and later founded the
Gordon String Quartet and Music Mountain, the nation's oldest chamber music
festival, in Fall's Village, Conn.
He is survived by his wife, Emily; five children,
Richard Gordon of Newport, Del., Elizabeth Gordon of Ridgewood, NJ, Jacques
Gordon of Wilmette, Ill., Helen Gordon of Hatchville, Mass., and Charlotte
Gordon of Rockport; 11 grandchildren; and a brother, Nicholas of Sharon,
Arrangements: A memorial service will be held
on Thursday, July 27, at 11 a.m. in St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Rockport,
with internment following at Beech Grove Cemetery in Rockport. In lieu of
flowers, contributions may be made in his name to Music Mountain, P.O. Box
738, Lakeville, CT 06039 or to St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 24 Broadway,
Rockport, MA 01966. Funeral arrangements are being conducted by the Burgess
& Mackey Funeral Home, 201 Main St., Rockport.