Obituary: Cynthia Gordon
University professor, longtime Village resident, reveled in Claremont’s triumphs and foibles
Cynthia Gordon died in Upland in December 2021 after a long illness.
Cynthia grew up in Los Angeles, attended Pomona College, and completed her doctorate in philosophy at Claremont Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University). While characteristically dismissive of her own talent, she went on to teach at Cal Poly, Pomona, the University of La Verne, and the University of California, Riverside.
She was well versed in comparative religions, which she taught at the university level. In later years she served as advisor to hospital medical ethics committees in Riverside and Pomona, and became known for her work in palliative care with local hospice groups. She took an anthropological perspective on religion, and was particularly enamored with Mircea Eliade’s concept of sacred space and time.
During graduate school she lived in a house on Indian Hill Blvd., across from Mallows Park. Once graduated and employed, she purchased the house and began a several year process of restoration, adding windows, and doing most of the woodwork by hand. The home was built at the turn of the century — the one before this one — and was sacred space to her, and she always kept it up.
In time, the carefully restored woodwork became covered with shelves and stacks of her beloved books. She entertained friends on the front porch, talking and watching most of Claremont walk by. On the Fourth of July she would gather a large group of friends on her shaded lawn for a front row seat for the great parade.
A keen follower of the Claremont COURIER, she would regale friends with backstories of Claremont’s social life. She loved the town, and delighted in its goings-on and foibles. Politically liberal and emotionally conservative, she was keenly interested in current events and her circle of old friends. At times she was stubborn and irascible, at times expansive and generous in support of those to whom she provided love and occasional assistance.
She eschewed the trivial and trendy. Her television was small, old, and black-and-white. She kept up on current affairs by reading cover to cover — and sometimes underlining — the New Yorker, New York Times and Christian Science Monitor, saving important articles to share with her friends.
“Cynthia was wise and witty, and took delight in dark, ironic humor,” her friends shared. “Her favorite story was how Claremont’s largest firetruck got stuck attempting to navigate — for the first time, with red lights flashing and sirens blaring — the newly installed traffic circle on Indian Hill and Bonita.”