Gordon Herzog was born to Jesse T. Herzog and Ethel B. (Dillingham) Herzog in St. Louis, Missouri on September 13, 1934. His family resided first in Normandy and later in Hazelwood, Missouri. Gordon was raised only a few blocks from Tom Hanks and both attended the same Sunday School class in a neighborhood Presbyterian Church. In their next-to-last year of high school, Tom’s father Stanley arranged for Gordon and Tom to spend a summer on a painting job in Fairbanks, Alaska. They shared a room all that summer but did not share any information about their sexual identities.
Gordon graduated from Ferguson High School in 1952 and received both an A.B. degree (1955) and a J.D. degree (1958) from Washington University. He also received the American Jurisprudence Award in Constitutional Law. He married Judith Krieger in 1961 and had four children: Jeffrey, Susan, John and Laura. The family resided in Florissant, Missouri.
Gordon began practicing law in Lackland Bloom’s firm. He later became Senior Partner of his own firm and continued to practice in downtown St. Louis until his semi-retirement in 2002, when he and law partner Alex Kanter moved their offices to Clayton and Florissant. Gordon practiced law from his Florissant office until his death on January 29, 2013. His companion of many years, Steven Chua, M.D. predeceased him in 2004.
In the late 1980s Tom Hanks was a missionary in Latin America who had come out and was working with John Doner in Metropolitan Community Church there. Gordon (now Episcopalian) reconnected with Tom and both revealed their gay identities. Hanks and Doner were creating an international organization to expand support for sexual minorities in churches in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Gordon joined them as one of the original board members of Other Sheep when it was founded in 1992. Gordon handled all of the group’s legal matters through his office in downtown St. Louis. Hanks notes that: “without Gordon, Other Sheep could not have come into existence, and without his determined efforts we would not have grown.”
Peg Adkins, another Other Sheep colleague, remembers Gordon: “’Bigger than life’ is the only way to describe Gordon and his contributions to many of us and to the world of justice. He organized and directed Other Sheep and numerous other non-profit organizations ‘lawfully’ and skillfully. Coming to know and love Gordon, and serving under his leadership on the Board of Other Sheep from its inception are counted as major, major blessings in my husband’s and my lives.”
“Gordon was punctilious in covering the details of Other Sheep governing and financial operations, in getting reports to authorities and thanks to contributors, and always with respect and support for fellow justice-minded co-workers. At the same time he could so successfully ad lib hosting wonderful picnics and weekend hospitality for out-of-town associates. His love of justice, along with the hospitable sharing of his large family, his home and his kitchen created an Other Sheep family of the most diverse members imaginable. Gordon nurtured all of us, and he did the ground-work and drove the explosion of Other Sheep into a worldwide ministry. He left behind a huge group of family, friends and clients who feel blessed to have known the support and love of one of God’s most spirit-led, hard-working, selfless kind.”
Gordon was very involved in service to his community including serving as President, Chairman or Director of: Council of Intercity Ministries, Grace Hill Council, Grace Hill Settlement House, Murphy Blair, St. Louis Council of the Episcopal Church Foundation, Episcopal City Mission, and St. Louis Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy. He was a Founding Director of Grace Hill Neighborhood Services, Charles Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation, Missourians for Freedom and Justice, Water Tower North, and Other Sheep. He also served as Senior Warden of the Vestry of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and on the Chapter at Christ Church Cathedral, was an Honorary Life Member of the Board of Grace Hill Settlement House, and a member of the Advisory Council of Episcopal City Mission.
He received The Bishop’s Award at the 133rd Diocesan Convention in 1973 being cited by Bishop Cadigan as “The Complete Anglican.” He is remembered as a gifted lawyer and businessman, devoted father and grandfather, faithful friend and relative, and champion of the poor and oppressed.
(Information for this profile taken from a biographical statement at Gordon’s memorial service and contributions of Tom Hanks and Peg Adkins.)
Biography Date: February, 2013
Episcopal Church | Adkins, Peg | Doner, John | Hanks, Tom | Other Sheep | Activist (religious institutions)