Lee Gordon, age 85, of Fulton, died on Tuesday evening, November 9, 2021.
Lee was born August 25, 1936, to Leland Gordon, Sr. and Wilma (Trumbo) Gordon in Jefferson City, Missouri. He grew up on Fulkerson Street, overlooking the Missouri River, and graduated from Jefferson City High School in 1954.
During WW II, Lee’s family relocated to Kansas City following his father’s job as a postal clerk. They returned to Jefferson City after the war, where Lee began working for his uncle, Thorpe J. Gordon, at Gordon Funeral Home.
Lee began dating Elaine Moore of Fulton during their High School years. Since his family didn’t own a vehicle, he would sometimes take Elaine on dates in his uncle’s hearse. They were united in marriage on February 25, 1956. The devoted couple raised three sons and spent their entire married life of over 65 years in Fulton.
After a year of junior college, and against his family’s wishes, Lee walked away from his uncle’s lucrative business and accepted a job at KRCG-TV in New Bloomfield on April 1, 1955, just a few weeks after the station went on the air. He was a part-time announcer at first, but after two weeks was offered a full-time position as News Anchor. He didn’t much care for reading the news, so he switched to the Lead Weathercaster in Autumn, 1956, anchoring both the 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM weathercasts for 12 years. He dropped back to doing just the 6:00 PM weather for several years, finally taking a hiatus from weathercasting from 1980 until 1988, when he resumed as the weathercaster on KRCG News at Noon. Lee became the Assistant General Manager and Program Director in the mid-1960s, and eventually Station Manager. As Program Director, he selected all of the non-CBS programs aired on Channel 13. Most of the early programming was live. On one occasion, while interviewing someone at the station, one of his coworkers sneaked a live chicken onto the set as a joke. Another time, when Lee’s infant twin sons were visiting the station, his son Vince pressed a button that shut down the station for several minutes while the engineers scrambled to figure out the problem.
In addition to his formal responsibilities, Lee spent a half hour every weekday in December for several years reading letters to Santa on the “Showtime” children’s program. He said it got pretty hot under spotlights in the beard, wig, pillow, coat, and hat. He and Elaine would spend two hours every night reading the letters to select good ones to read and list the names of the rest to make sure everyone at least heard Santa say their name on TV. Probably his favorite role was dressing up as “The Spook,” a vampire who introduced horror movies Saturday nights and clowned around with his cohorts Rodney (Don Shinkle), Frankenstein (Dan Reed), and Miss Transylvania (Bill Ratliff).
Lee became fondly known as the “Voice of Mid-Missouri,” having performed most of KRCG’s voice-over work until his retirement in June 2008. Always an ambassador for his community, he was recognized for his service on his 40th anniversary at the station when both Mayor Bob Fisher of Fulton and the Missouri House of Representatives proclaimed April 1, 1995 “Lee Gordon Day.” The Kingdom of Callaway Supper Committee honored him with their Settler’s Award in 2007 for his contributions to his adopted community.
The one time he drew criticism (and caused the phone to ring off the hook) was when the US Postal Service polled the public to choose between a Vegas, or “Leather” style Elvis portrait for a stamp. Lee loved Jazz, so when asked his opinion on the air, Lee replied, “I didn’t care for him when he was alive and I don’t think he’s improved much after death.”
Lee was very humbled by the idea that people virtually welcomed him into their homes every night and took that responsibility very seriously. He never let his local popularity go to his head, but rather enjoyed nothing more than being at home with Elaine, plus hanging out with “the guys” having a few beers at the V.F.W., the Tap Room, or the “Sandbox.”
Lee will be sorely missed by his surviving family: sons, Vance Gordon (Cindy Perkins) and Vincent Gordon of Columbia, and Bryce Gordon of Fulton; brother-in-law, Walter “Wiley” Moore of Fulton, and several nieces and nephews. Lee was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine, and his parents.
After a private memorial service at Maupin Funeral Home, officiated by Bruce Williamson, Lee will be laid to rest at Callaway Memorial Garden in Fulton.
In lieu of flowers, a contribution in his name to a charity of your choice is suggested and can be sent to Maupin Funeral Home, 301 Douglas Boulevard, Fulton, MO 65251.