My Uncle Louie opened his home to me as I looked in Atlanta for my first job after college. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution hired me in 1982 and, over the intervening years, Aunt Helen and Uncle Louie shared the warmth of their home and their depth of knowledge about metro Atlanta, where they had moved in 1956. This is the family’s obituary.
Lewis Van Gorder was born in Wellsboro, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, son of Lewis Leonard Van Gorder, and his wife, Cecelia Maria (Markowicz) Van Gorder. He was a graduate of Wellsboro High School Class 1938, Mansfield State Teachers College 1942 (Bachelor of Science), George Washington University (Master of Arts) 1946.
It was at Mansfield State where he met his wife of exactly 61 years, Helen Leah (Mack) Van Gorder, of Sunbury, PA. They were married at the height of World War II, April 22, 1944, in Wellsboro, PA, during a weekend leave.
Shortly after the war, they settled in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he was a teacher of math and sciences. Here they attended St. Luke Lutheran Church under Senior Pastor Robert E. Lee, and had 2 sons, Lewis Mack (1947) , and Michael Lee (1950).
The family moved to Atlanta, GA, in 1956, with Lewis accepting the position of Director, Christian Education and Youth at The Lutheran Church of The Redeemer, under Pastor Lee. In 1959, son William Robert was born. Lewis worked at Redeemer in this position until 1963, accepting the position of Evening Registrar at Georgia Institute of Technology through 1968, becoming Director of Special Studies at Georgia State University, and moving to Southern Technical College as Dean of Students, where he retired from the University Systems of Georgia in 1984.
During WWII, he was a meteorologist serving in the US Army Air Forces, continuing his studies at University of Kansas, Topeka, and The University of Chicago, attaining the rank of captain, and continuing in the Reserves after the war at this rank. He was working on his PhD at University of Maryland before moving to Atlanta.
He considered himself a solid Lutheran after meeting his future wife and attending her home church, Zion Lutheran (Rev. Dr. Raymond Wood) in Sunbury, PA.
After his retirement, he and his wife Helen traveled extensively throughout Europe, Canada, and the US, normally with the church group. But, they were always home for the holidays to be with family.
Lewis is survived by his one sister, Winifred Marie Jessup (Edward) of Canisteo, New York; nephew Lewis Edward (Nancy), nieces Helen Ann Sawyer (George) and Alice Kay Krum (Marshall); niece Jackie Riggin (John), Jana Raup; niece Jean Hollowell, nephew David Pendered; by his 3 sons Lewis Mack (Joni) and their children Leah Marie (Lucas), daughter Amanda Childress, son Spencer Childress; John Lewis, grandson Evan Lewis; Billy Arnold, Michael Arnold (Kim), grandson Mike; Andy Arnold (Anita), grandson Dominic. Son Michael Lee (Sandra Kay), “adopted” children Ada Milian (Ricky), great grandson Alexander Richard Milian, Sandra Maria Ruiz, Genaro Ruiz. Son William Robert (Jennifer) their daughter Abbe Alessandra, their son Chase William Van Gorder (Heidi), great grandson Beckett Chase Van Gorder.
Lewis was most proud of the many he helped over the years, from his time at Redeemer, and as an administrator in the University System. Students became lawyers, actuaries, and computer scientists, when they had become disenchanted with their undergraduate studies. Many of these students have become lifelong friends.
We give thanks to God for his service to our country, to his church, for his being the patriarch of the family, and for his lifelong friendships.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Lutheran Church of The Redeemer, 731 Peachtree St., NE, Atlanta, GA 30308 or www.redeemer.org