Monday, September 29, 2014

Gordon Minton Wickstrom April 26, 1926 – September 18, 2014

“It will be brief, the interim is mine.” Hamlet

Gordon Minton Wickstrom died at the age of 88 on September 18, 2014, after fighting cancer since the preceding April. He was born on April 26, 1926, in Boulder. Wickstrom was Professor of Theatre at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from 1971 to 1990, and Department Chair from 1976 until his retirement in 1990 as Alumni Professor of English Belles Lettres and Literature. Upon retirement, he and his wife, Betty Jane Smith Wickstrom, also a Boulder native, returned to Boulder. They have lived since then in a house built on the back yard of the family home on Bluff Street, where both his grandparents, of Boulder City Bakery, and his parents lived.

Wickstrom was a master fly fisherman and fly-tier, who began fishing at age 12 with a rod and reel that his mother and father, Thelma and Percy Wickstrom, gave to him for his birthday. His knowledge of Boulder Creek and the watersheds of the mountains surrounding Boulder, combined with his fishing and his consummate expertise in the theatre, especially the plays of the Irish Renaissance, of Bernard Shaw and of Shakespeare, developed into many forms of writing and publication to which Wickstrom was devoted. He is the author of two books. Notes from an Old Fly Book, from University Press of Colorado came out in 2001, and Late in an Angler’s Life, from University of New Mexico Press, came out in 2004. He made many contributions to the distinguished The American Fly Fisher, which is the journal of the American Museum of Fly Fishing. With illustrations from John Betts and graphic design from Michael Signorella, he published a graphic history of fly-fishing, along with a unique dramatic piece, The Great Debate. For over ten years he published two gazettes, cherished by readers across the country and internationally, The Bouldercreek Angler, and The Bouldercreek Actor. He also wrote for his blog, The Boulder Creek Angler  (, posting his last essay, “The Fisherman,” on September 5, 2014. He said that, in the blog, he wrote on “all matters of art, life, love and angling.” He was a member of the Boulder Fly Casters and the illustrious Flyfishers’ Club of London.

Wickstrom was a WWII veteran, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 until 1945. He received his degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder in English Literature in 1950, funded by the GI Bill of Rights. Subsequently, Wickstrom began his teaching career at Powell High School in Powell, Wyoming, where his two children, Linnea and Maurya, were born, in 1951 and 1959 respectively. While in Powell, Wickstrom pioneered in the theatre, directing the plays of the European avant-garde of the time, such as those by Samuel Beckett. In 1966, the family moved to Palo Alto, California, where Wickstrom earned his Ph.D, at Stanford University, with a dissertation on the Deidre plays of three Irish playwrights.

Over the years Wickstrom directed over 100 plays, including directing and acting at The Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Upon retirement, and with J.H. Crouch as partner, he founded The Shakespeare Oratorio Society of Colorado in 1995. Each winter the society produced one of Shakespeare’s plays in their radically different “oratorical” format. Wickstrom played King Lear for the third time in the maiden production of the society. Wickstrom’s brother, Phillip, played Gloucester and became a regular with the company.

He was ever, and remained to the end, a convinced and practical Democrat.

He is survived by his wife of ­­­66 years, Betty Jane Wickstrom; his daughter Linnea Wickstrom and her spouse, Peter Maresca, and their son, Per Wickstrom-Maresca; daughter Maurya Wickstrom and her spouse, Joel Reynolds, and their son, Naoise Reynolds and their daughter, Erin Reynolds. He is also survived by his brother Phillip Wickstrom, the two who were, always, “Thelma and Percy’s boys.”

A service was held on Wednesday, September 24th at Ryssby church and Gordon’s ashes were interred at the Green Mountain cemetery near his grandparents.

Wickstrom asked that his friends be directed to Shakespeare’s Sonnet #73, and, in the spirit of Dean John Donne of St. Paul’s, think on death as the most interesting, exciting, mysterious, and disastrous thing that can happen to us.


Harry Briscoe said...

His obituary is as perfect as was his life. He was an extraordinary man and I am fortunate for having known him. Rest well, Gordon.

Shel said...

The only thing missing is a mention of Gordon's amazing voice. I don't think I will ever read Shakespeare without hearing him. The world is a less sonorous place without him. I was truly blessed to have known him.

Post a Comment