Science & Technology

Godspeed, Dick Gordon: Seattle-born Apollo 12 astronaut passes away at 88

The first Seattle-born astronaut to fly in space, Dick Gordon, passed away on Monday at his home in California at the age of 88, NASA and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation reported.

He flew into orbit in 1966 as pilot for the Gemini 11 mission. Three years later, he was the command module pilot for Apollo 12, and orbited the moon while crewmates Pete Conrad and Alan Bean went down to the lunar surface.

Gordon was born in Seattle in 1929 and graduated from North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo, Wash., in 1947. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Washington in 1951.

After college, Gordon became a naval aviator: He was assigned to an all-weather fighter squadron based in Jacksonville, Fla., and went on to serve as a test pilot and flight instructor at Naval Air Station Miramar in California.

In 1963, Gordon was selected to become part of NASA’s third group of astronauts, known as “the Fourteen.” His group also included Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins — as well as Apollo 8’s Bill Anders, who now lives north of Seattle.

Gordon retired from NASA and the Navy in 1972. His post-NASA career included stints as executive vice president of the New Orleans Saints and as an executive for several companies in the petrochemical, engineering and technology industries.

“Dick Gordon is an American hero, and a true renaissance man by any measure,” Curt Brown, board chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, said in a statement. “He was an American naval officer and aviator, chemist, test pilot, NASA astronaut, professional football executive, oil and gas executive and generous contributor to worthy causes. He was in a category all his own.”

The foundation said Gordon is survived by six children — Carleen, Richard, Lawrence, Thomas, James, and Diane — from his first wife, Barbara, who died in 2012. In addition, there are two stepchildren, Traci and Christopher, from his wife, Linda, who died this September.

Seattle’s Museum of Flight has several artifacts from Gordon’s Apollo 12 mission on display, including a moon rock and rocket engine components that were recovered from the mission’s Saturn V first stage with support from Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Back to top button