Gordon Lawrence Bender was born on August 8, 1918 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. He was the son of Robert Louis and Leila Grace (Harrington) Bender, and he married Marion Ellen Johnson on June 24, 1945 in Seattle, Washington. They have four daughters, eleven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. Gordon passed away June 14, 2011 in Waupaca, Wisconsin. He was 92. Gordon was Professor of Zoology at Arizona State University for twenty-eight years (1953-1981). He served a term as Department Chair and was known for his approachable teaching style and high standards. He mentored many advanced students in his specialty areas of entomology and desert ecology, and he was especially known for teaching “BIO 100,” a general biology course. For many summers, he conducted a Summer Institute in Desert Biology. Funded by the National Science Foundation, it was the only one of its kind and introduced college biology teachers from all over the world to the study of arid lands. He served as Interim Program Director of the Institutes Section of the National Science Foundation at Washington, D.C. (1962-63). In 1965, he traveled to Jodhpur, India, where he taught high school biology teachers, and twice he went to the Kufra Oasis of Libya where he worked with a UNESCO project to develop agriculture in the Sahara desert. He was a Fellow and President of the Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Chairman of that organization’s Committee on Desert and Arid Zones Research, member and President of the Arizona Academy of Science, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi. Two accomplishments of which he was particularly proud were a book that he edited, Reference Handbook on the Deserts of North America and the directory that he helped to create of desert scientists throughout the world. He retired from ASU, Professor Emeritus of Life Sciences, in 1981. Prior to ASU, Gordon taught at Bemidji State Teachers College in Minnesota. He also worked in the chemistry department of Washington State College, the biology department at Illinois Wesleyan University, and was botany instructor at the University of Illinois, where he earned his Ph.D. in entomology. Gordon earned his Master of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His B.S. degree was from Iowa State College, where he also played saxophone in the marching band and was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity. He was a 1936 graduate of Chippewa Falls High School. Gordon was an outdoorsman and an environmentalist. He had a lifetime love of hunting, fishing, boating, and photography. People who knew him well smile at his collections of jackets, radios, boats, and cameras. He was a founding member and first President of the Izaak Walton League in Bemidji Minnesota, served the Boy Scouts in many capacities over twenty-five years, belonged to the Kiwanis Club and Ducks Unlimited, and was honored for his years of service to the Chain O’Lakes Property Owner’s Association. He also loved trains, classical music, military bands, and especially his dog Rex.
Gordon was preceded in death by his parents. Remembering him with love are his wife Marion, daughters, Barbara Herrick and her husband Reeder, Caryl Bender, Judy Bender-Ream, and Patti Bender; grandchildren Bonnie (Herrick) Pratt, Cindy (Herrick) English, Nancy Herrick, Jessica Bender, Tiffany Bender, Emily (Bender-Ream) Murphy, Kyle Bender, Nicole Bender-Ream, Katie Bender-Ream, Scott Konzem, Sally Konzem, ten great-grandchildren, many cousins and the numerous friends of a lifetime. A Funeral service was held Saturday, June 18, 2011 at Crystal Lake United Methodist Church near Waupaca. Interment was in the Crystal Lake Cemetery, Township of Dayton, Waupaca County, WI. The Holly Funeral Home of Waupaca, WI assisted the family with arrangements.