From the Archives: Summer 2008 Issue of Lupus Now
Circle of Hope: Willing Spirit
The lupus community pays tribute to a great advocate and friend
Our friend Gordon—“Gordo,” as his wife, Marilyn, called him fondly—was a very special man. Born in East Hartford, CT, he enlisted in the U.S. Army the week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, even though he was underage, and he went on to receive the Purple Heart. The father of three sons, Gordon later started a business creating educational toys for children, the most successful of which was a science kit for hatching eggs for milk weed bugs. How he must have chuckled at the thought of encouraging kids to grow insects at home! He also had a real talent for photography and took pride in sharing his artistic photos with friends.
Most of all, though, Gordon loved life. He had such boundless amounts of energy that it doesn’t seem possible for him to be gone. He may have lived to age 85, but he was still too young at heart to be finished with life.
Gordon gave a lot of that energy toward fostering lupus awareness, both at home and abroad, because Marilyn has lived with lupus for decades, and he well knew the challenges and side effects and toll the disease can take. He loved her so much. You hardly ever came to an LFA function without getting a hug from both of them. The Connecticut lupus group, which eventually came under the LFA umbrella, was one of their great accomplishments. For 61 years they were a team, busy all the time helping others.
Gordon and Marilyn reached out to international lupus groups as well, and people all over the world today remember the Sousa support of the lupus advocacy mission. Below are tributes sent to the LFA upon learning of his passing. —The Editor
Gordon was a wonderful man with a fascinating humor. I will never forget the "bullfight" he did one late evening in front of the hotel in Atlanta with Len Funk [Canada] and Brian Hanner [UK] and me watching, full of laughter. It was an honor for me to have met Gordon during my visits to America and to have shared his friendship. I will miss him very much. -- Rudi Hocks, European Lupus Erythematosus Federation, Bad Camberg, Germany
I remember the Sousas vividly. When the lupus movement was beginning, they were instrumental in organizing seminars between lupus patients and doctors in Ohio, and the cross-border friendships continue to this day. Sent with sympathies from all of us at Lupus Foundation of Ontario.—Cornelia “Cookie” Heyermans (one of the founding members of Lupus Foundation of Ontario, established 31 years ago)
Gordon Sousa served for many years as Treasurer of LFA, in support of his courageous, dedicated wife, Marilyn. They had a wonderful partnership in life, and worked together in their concern for people with lupus. He will be missed.—Enid Yoffa Elton, Melbourne, Australia (former president, Westchester Chapter, NY, and president, Lupus Australia Foundation, Victoria, Australia)
I extend our sympathies to Marilyn on behalf of all the Trinidad & Tobago lupus patients and supporters. Warm regards—Curtis Wilson, President, Lupus Society of Trinidad & Tobago
The Fundacion Mexicana de Lupus, A.C. express to Marilyn our sorrow for the loss of Gordon Sousa. During several Lupus Congresses, Gordon and Marilyn have always provided their support to us, and have expressed their interest and worries to help others. We will always remember you.—Dr. Humberto Orozco-Medina & Elvia Orozco, Jalisco, Mexico
We are so sad to read the sad news with regards to the late Gordon Sousa. I recall meeting him during the Atlanta Workshop. I can still picture him as a person with a high spirit, a very positive attitude, always happy & cheerful. This is truly a big loss to all of us. Our prayers & love will always be with them.—Ayu Bisono, Yayasan Lupus Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
We are sorry to hear that Gordon Sousa passed away. His loss is a loss for the lupus community. On behalf of everybody in the Cyprus League Against Rheumatism and the Cyprus Lupus Group, we would like to send our sincere sympathy to everybody that knew him.—With best wishes, Maria Matheou, Nicosia, Cypus
It is with great sadness that I heard of Gordon “GORDO” Sousa's passing. After getting to know him and Marilyn, it was a given that if Marilyn was at a meeting, Gordon would be at a local Barnes & Noble if his health was up to travelling with her. He was a perfect picture of a devoted husband, taking on any challenges which Marilyn got involved in and assisting either from up front or behind the scenes, but always there. Within the charity sector, the light has dimmed with Gordon's passing and we will all miss him greatly.—Len Funk, former president, Lupus Canada