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Maurice Aloysius Gordon, 93, of Rantoul, IL passed away on August 22, 2023.
Born Sept. 4, 1929, he was the son of Maurice Aloysius Gordon Sr. and Katherine J. (Murray) Gordon. He grew up on the family farm west of Rantoul with his parents, three sisters, and a brother and was surrounded by extended family who lived in the area. After graduating from Rantoul Township High School in 1945 he started at the University of Illinois, Champaign, thinking he would pursue a law degree. After his older brother, Bernard, was tragically killed in a car accident, Maurice returned to the family farm after one semester of college. In his early twenties he met the love of his life, a young nursing student named Ruth Karlock. After wooing her, they married on Jan. 2, 1954, at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Rantoul. Instead of taking a car to their wedding reception, his fun-loving friends sent them off in a pony cart. Shortly after their honeymoon, Maurice was drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany after WWII. Ruth was able to join him, and they started raising their family abroad. After a brief period of military service, and an honorable discharge, he returned to the farm for the rest of his life. He was rightly proud of the successful farming partnership that developed over the years with two of his sons, Bernie and Stephen. As Maurice started relinquishing his role with day-to-day farming operations, Ruth and he began traveling more. They discovered that they liked warmer winter weather in Mesa, AZ and eventually bought a condo there, enjoying their retirement years while developing many close friendships.
Always proud of Rantoul, Maurice wanted to contribute to the community. During the seventies, he was on the school board of Rantoul Township High School. He forwarded school building improvements, one of them termed “Gordon’s Folly.” It was a breeze way that connected both sides of the school and did much to alleviate congestion in the halls when students passed between classes. Maurice was also on the board of Rantoul First Bank, using his background knowledge as a successful farmer to help make financial decisions for the bank.
Passionate about agriculture, Maurice held leadership positions in numerous farm organizations. He was honored as the News-Gazette Farm Leader of the Year in 1979, chosen by his peers as a Central Illinois Farmer who excelled in the ag industry. Maurice was the Chairman of the Board of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board in 1983-1984, an organization that promotes markets for corn and corn products. He was Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Feed Grains Council in 1988-1989, traveling internationally as a trade ambassador to other countries. Maurice was called upon by the George H. W. Bush’s administration to represent American agriculture abroad. One thing President Bush said was that he hated to see people suffer. This impressed Maurice deeply because it paralleled his philosophy that the purpose and importance of agriculture is to eliminate hunger. He was proud to be a farmer and to represent our great nation while always respecting other farmers throughout the world. He felt honored by visits from foreign delegations who would come to tour the farm. And while Maurice never graduated from the University of Illinois, he was on their Agronomy Advisory Committee from 1988-1991.
Always with an eye on eternity, Maurice was a man of faith. He was an active and generous parishioner of St. Malachy Catholic Church in Rantoul, IL and Holy Cross Catholic Church in Mesa, AZ. Toward the end of his life, he would frequently say that he was blessed. Maurice felt fortunate to have grown up knowing the importance of his faith and family. He felt that any success that he had was built on that foundation, modeled by his parents, and extended family, including his uncle, Pat Murray. Later in life, Maurice was proud of his four children and their spouses, his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He was looking forward to supporting the next generation to carry on Gordon farming in Champaign County. Loved and respected, he is survived by his wife, Ruth, his four children and their spouses: Bernard (Vickie) Gordon, Maurice (Dianna) Gordon, Susan (Bruce) Kloth and Stephen (Rebecca) Gordon. He left behind 14 grandchildren and their spouses: Brian (Dee) Gordon, Chris (Samantha) Gordon, Andrea (Steve) Martorana, Michael (Victoria) Gordon, Katherine Gordon, Thomas (Mary) Gordon, Daniel (Freya) Gordon, Mary T. Gordon, Kevin Gordon (Fianceé: Enxhi Buxheli) , Joshua (Laura) Kloth, Jason (Ronni) Kloth, Krista (Kirk) Vissat, Kacie (Dallas) Osterbur, and Devon (Chet) Little. He has (20) great-grandchildren: Zabrina Gordon, Sadie Gordon, Jack Martorana, Caroline Martorana, Anne Martorana, Nicholas Gordon, Iris Gordon, Phoebe Gordon, Jonathon David Kloth, James Kloth, Josephine Kloth, Henry Kloth, Coretta Kloth, Thaddeus Kloth, Izabella Vissat, Gianna Vissat, Emma Osterbur, Kinsley Osterbur, Brynleigh Little, Jamison Gordon and two on the way. He was predeceased by his siblings and in-laws: Bernard Gordon, Jeanne Gordon, Catherine Gordon, Alice (Joseph) Bowe, and Frank (Jean) Karlock.
Visitation will be Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Lux Memorial Chapel, 1551 East Grove, Rantoul. A funeral mass will be at 10:00 a.m Friday at St. Malachy Catholic Church, 304 E. Belle Ave., Rantoul with cemetery internment to follow in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Rantoul. Fr. Joel Phelps will officiate.