I first met Dr. Gordon Gilkey when the office the art historian and I shared was no longer available to us. It was actually the “green room” for the Art Museum stage, and performers dressed and sat in it between acts. We often found bottles, food wrappers and wine glasses on our desks, so it was less than ideal as a work space anyway. Gordon had brought his enormous valuable print collection to the Museum and was going to teach History of Printmaking using the actual prints. He had been given a large office and he told us we could have half of it for our offices. This generosity was my first introduction to this wonderful man.
Completely unprepossessing, Gordon never spoke about his past accomplishments. I learned over time that he was a retired dean from the state university. More amazingly, I discovered that Gordon(center in the left picture above) had been central in retrieving and identifying stolen and stored Nazi art work. The film “Monument Men” highlights this priceless activity.
I knew him as a gentle, fairly laconic fellow faculty member. Unlike some heroes, Gordon never bragged about any of his past life. He went on daily sharing his prints and sharing his office as if these treasures were only temporarily in his keeping. Which, I suppose, they were.
More on Gordon tomorrow.