Gordon C. Sage
1921 - 2020
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My father, Gordon C. Sage, was born Oct. 21, 1921, and raised on a small ranch near the foot of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This picturesque resort area endowed him with a lifelong love of wildlife, nature and scenic beauty. It was here that he acquired an intimate knowledge of nature. At a very young age, it became evident that he was born with the natural ability to take that knowledge and turn it into artistic masterpieces.
September 1939, his senior year, Hitler’s troops invaded Poland. He decided to join the National Guard to help guard his country. Graduating from Rapid City High School in 1940, he made another decision ... he felt it was his duty to his country, he switched to the U.S. Marine Corps. He hitchhiked to the recruiting center in Minneapolis, MN. Gordon was soon sent to boot camp at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, CA, assigned to a seagoing Marine unit. At age 20, he was assigned to Rear Admiral Walter Stratton Anderson on the USS Maryland, as his orderly. Admiral Anderson was the commander of the battleship fleet in the Pacific Theater. On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese war planes struck, and Gordon started hearing explosions. A friend came to his door and said, “this is it” ... Pearl Harbor was being bombed. The bay was on fire and the flames were right up against the ship. He jumped in a line and started passing ammunition to an antiaircraft gun until the admiral came aboard.
The Maryland was struck with three blows but spared heavy damage. The ship crippled out of the harbor and went to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA, for repairs. In Seattle, he met the love of his life, Patricia Decker and they were married.
He returned to active duty and participated in the landing of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, fighting on the Marshall Islands, the Mariana Islands of Guam Saipan, Tinian, then on to the landing of Iwo Jima.
After World War II, Gordon went to art school for awhile then re-enlisted in the Army-Air Corps. He chose the Air Force when the branches separated. He kept close ties with art by serving as an illustrator in the military, painting in his spare time. Gordon put in another 20 years of teaching in the Evergreen School District in Clark County, WA, where he had called home for 58 years.
He spent his life exploring the potential of oil paint with all it richness and variety of texture. Gordon Sage was a versatile and prolific artist, the greater part of his output consists of Native American themes, encompassing native myths, customs and dress. The rest of his work is comprised of landscapes, wildlife, portraits, allegory and literary themes. Most of his work created in the last 20 years has been painted with a palette knife.
His formal art training began at Colorado Springs Fine Art Center where he studied under Boardman Robinson. Later, Gordon graduated from Arizona State University and received his masters degree from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR.
Gordon had shown and sold to collectors in Japan, France, South Dakota, Arizona, California, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.
He is survived by his daughter, Donna G. Sage; son-in-law, Ray B. Bailey; grandsons, Shane Bird and wife Deborah, Wade Bird and partner, John, and Ryan Bird and wife, Tracy; great-granddaughters, Payton, Trisha and Jessica; great-grandsons, Tee Jay and Spencer; great-great-grandsons, Colton, Logan and Geddy; and great-great-granddaughter, Haley; step-great-grandsons, Chris, Brandon, step-great-granddaughter, Alex, and surrogate granddaughter, Susannah. Plus many dear family members and friends.
Preceding him in death was wife, Patricia; granddaughter, Carmel; and step-grandson, Brian.
Graveside service is Nov. 25, at 11 a.m. “Wilson Bridge Cemetery” on 72nd Avenue.
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Published in The Columbian on Nov. 20, 2020.
Graveside service
11:00 AM
Memories & Condolences
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11 entries
November 26, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Cassandra Kendrick
November 25, 2020
One of my favorite teachers in high school. He always had a kind smile and twinkle in his eye. My deepest condolences.
Susan Peres
November 24, 2020
Everytime I smell hot plastic I think of Mr. Sage. Loved his craft class.
November 22, 2020
Thanks Gordon, for the GREAT memories that we shared at Covington. I still treasure your wildlife painting with ducks from 1973. You were not just a great artist but you taught so many to love and appreciate art along the way. A special thank you to Tracy for updating me on Gordon's adventures each time our paths crossed. That connection to Gordon through you meant a great deal to me over the years.
Ken Howell
November 22, 2020
I had the distinct pleasure of having Mr. Sage as a teacher at Covington JHS in 1976. I remember him as a kind and gentle person and an excellent teacher. As I was very much interested in history, especially WWII, we had a couple of conversations about his experiences at Pearl Harbor. When I see how extensive his war record was, I think that it must have been his love for nature than sustained him--and, maybe, the war renewed his love for nature. Rest in Peace, Mr. Sage.
Kevin Patrick Stolz
November 22, 2020
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Toni Burnett
November 21, 2020
Mr. Sage was an amazing teacher. He taught at Covington Junior High. We did leather work in his class and I made my first eye glass case. He was also related to my daughter in law Trisha Burnett and I got to see him several times for holiday's. I enjoyed those times and my heart aches for his family. I am sure he is enjoying the beauty of heaven's colors.
Toni Burnett
November 21, 2020
November 20, 2020
Gordon Sage taught with my husband, Jimmy Rupp, at Evergreen High School, and taught our son, Aaron, pottery at EHS. Gordon was a delight for both students and staff. Rupp family hearts are with the whole Sage family
Paquita Rupp
November 20, 2020
Mr. Sage was my teacher at Covington Junior High in the early 70s. I took his art/crafts class and he was everyone’s favorite teacher. I have fond memories of his quiet and encouraging manner. I still have a woodworking project he helped me create. My condolences to his family.
Kim VanAntwerp Perry
November 20, 2020
Donna, what a wonderful tribute to your Father. He was an extraordinary man. Jim and I came from the Black Hills also and we enjoyed sharing that connection with him.
Janet Cottingham
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