Mark Aitken Gordon

Mark GordonMark Aitken Gordon, Ph.D., died peacefully at home on April 27, 2024, in Tucson, AZ. Born in 1937 in Springfield, MA, to Josephine Pease Aitken and Alexander Dorward Gordon, he grew up in Hazardville, Enfield, CT. Educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Yale University, and the High Altitude Observatory at the University of Colorado, he worked as a radio astronomer as Staff Member of MIT Lincoln Laboratory and from 1969 with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory until retiring in 2003 as Scientist Emeritus. He had served as an Assistant Director of the NRAO and, later, as Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Gordon published many research papers and several books, including a family genealogy tracing back to 1750. He said the most interesting part of his career was determining how to build and operate the proposed giant ALMA radio telescope, now located at a 16,500-ft location in the Andes above the Atacama Desert of Chile. After he wintered in Antarctica in 1960 as part of the U. S. Antarctic Research Project, the U. S. Board of Geographic Names named Gordon Valley in the Queen Alexander Range for him. Mark rode 1,000 miles in the 1976 Bikecentennial and was proud to have visited 53 countries. He enjoyed doing the NY Times crossword puzzle every morning, baking French bread, sailing in Puget Sound, camping, travel and eating black licorice. In addition, Mark started flying lessons at age 70. He was a longtime member of White Mountain Country Club in Pinetop, AZ, and of Tucson Country Club in Tucson.

He leaves his beloved wife Julia, daughters Paige (Paul Oshan) of Torrance, CA, and Sarah (Keith Smith) of Alexandria, VA, and step daughters Laura Perry Barton (William Matthews) of Denver, CO, Robin Perry, DVM (Frank Lynch, Jr), of Carlsbad, CA, Jennifer Perry (John Gross) of San Diego, CA, and Anne (Samuel Shivers III) of Tucson, AZ. He also leaves his grandchildren Adam Oshan, Susan Oshan, Abigail Smith, and Courtney Smith, and step grandchildren Katherine Barton Long, Jeffrey Barton, Christopher Barton, John Lynch, Colin Gross, Ryan Gross, Grace Shivers, and Samuel Shivers IV, and great grandchildren Clara Jane Long and Brooks Lee Long. A celebration of life was held on June 8, 2024, at 4pm at Tucson Country Club, 2950 N. Camino Principal. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.