Gordon W. Van Wormer, 82, passed on peacefully on January 1, 2020 at his home in Painted Post, New York after a lengthy illness. He was the husband of Sandra (Burdick) Van Wormer. They shared 59 years of marriage.
Born in Athens, Pennsylvania, he was the youngest son of Adsit and Walter Van Wormer. He graduated from Mansfield State Teachers College with a bachelor’s degree in music education. He received a masters’ degree in music education from Ithaca College.
His teaching career spanned elementary, junior and senior high, with teaching positions in Canastota, New York, Corning Free Academy, and Corning-Painted Post West High School, where he taught music theory, vocal music and percussion. His published choral and band compositions were performed by high school, college, and professional ensembles, and his arrangement of the Monty Python theme for the marching band percussion line was legendary on the football field.
When he found no adequate text for teaching music theory at the high school level, he spent a summer at the kitchen table and the piano writing his own, for use in the classroom. For nearly a decade, he masterminded the annual musical extravaganza known as the “Pop Machine” which featured both student and professional arrangements of popular music from every era and often outlandish costumes and skits. He was an active and sought-after mentor of young musicians, and he coached vocal and instrumental musicians throughout their early careers.
In his retirement, he focused on the visual arts as well as music, and produced many drawings and watercolors. He was a member of the Motet Singers, Community Band, and a Meals-on-Wheels volunteer. He was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a professional music fraternity. He attended the Church of Redeemer in Addison, where he sang in the choir.
He is survived by his wife, Sandra; daughters, Tobi Andrews and Nancy Solla; one grandchild; sister, Mary; and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service for Gordon will be announced at a later date.
Gordon's photo was taken by his son-in-law Alex Solla. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to CareFirst (3805 Meads Creek Road, Painted Post, NY 14870 CareFirstNY.org), St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the Finger Lakes SPCA (72 Cameron Street, Bath, NY 14810 FingerLakesSPCA.org), or to any organization of choice.
Gordon's family entrusted his care to Haughey Funeral Home, Inc.