Originally created 01/06/02

Savannah author dies at age 89



SAVANNAH - Arthur Gordon, whose storied career as an author and editor spanned more than half a century, died Friday at home. The Savannah native was 89.

Author of 14 books, a former editor of Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and Guidepost magazines and contributing writer to such publications as Reader's Digest, Esquire, Collier's, Saturday Evening Post, McCall's and Redbook, Mr. Gordon was perhaps best known locally for A Touch of Wonder, a collection of descriptive essays on family and life along the Georgia coast.

"It's been a very lucky life, I think," he told the Savannah Morning News in 1985. "I've been lucky in the things I've been able to do. And I was lucky in my childhood. It was a happy one. A writer is supposed to have all sorts of terrible trauma, but I don't think I had any."

Though born to an established and historical family in Savannah - his aunt, Juliette Gordon Low, started the Girl Scouts, and a monument in Wright Square commemorates great-grandfather William Washington Gordon, a founder of the Central of Georgia Railroad - Mr. Gordon charted his own course in life.

He attended Savannah's Pape School (now Savannah Country Day) through the eighth grade, graduating from a boarding school in New England. He went on to graduate from Yale University, spending two years at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar.

After his stint at Oxford, Mr. Gordon found work reading unsolicited poetry for Good Housekeeping magazine, a job, he said, that "nearly blunted my literary teeth forever." Instead, within five years, he was the magazine's managing editor.

Then came World War II. Mr. Gordon spent three years overseas as an intelligence officer with the 8th Air Force. He wrote Target Germany, a book about the 8th Air Force that sold well in England.

After the war, Mr. Gordon worked for Hearst Corp. as editor of Cosmopolitan, a mostly fiction magazine at the time. He returned to Savannah to write Reprisal - a suspense novel based on the real-life lynchings of four people in Monroe.

Although his years in the magazine business brought him into contact with such luminaries as Rudyard Kipling, short-story writer Damon Runyon and psychiatrist Karl Menninger, Mr. Gordon characteristically downplayed his own abilities, once describing himself as 'a good second-string writer.'