Late 'Banky' Gordon remembered as brilliant sportsman, corporate exec
GORDON...distinguished himself at Howard University and Harvard Law School (Photos: Observer file)

BANCROFT "Banky" Gordon, who passed away suddenly on Tuesday during a visit to Jamaica, was regarded by people who knew him well as a "great" man with an astute mind, a kind heart, and a humble soul.

Yet he was talented enough to have excelled in various sporting disciplines, not least football.

He was 66.

Gordon, a Jamaican who lived in Maryland, United States, distinguished himself at Howard University and Harvard Law School.

DEHRING...he was a brilliant footballer but had an equally brilliant mind

An esteemed lawyer, he was vice-president, assistant general counsel, and corporate secretary at American multinational company Marriott International before his retirement in 2020.

The former Excelsior High student athlete, who hailed from St Catherine, also served for eight years on the board of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

In his earlier years Gordon captained Excelsior's Manning Cup schoolboy football team, and while representing Shortwood United in the Kingston and St Andrew FA Major League was the competition's Player of the Year in 1978.

Jamaican entrepreneur, and former national youth footballer and cricketer Chris Dehring said Gordon was a mentor.

"Banky was the perfect student athlete that we all admired. He was a brilliant footballer but had an equally brilliant mind. His talent on the football field was surpassed only by his accomplishments in the boardroom and generosity off of it," Dehring told the Jamaica Observer.

"Even though he rose to the top of corporate America he never forgot where he came from and was always involved in some charity or cause in Jamaica. A mentor in my earlier years, he became my golfing buddy in our latter.

"We were to play golf [Wednesday] morning, him confirming the time with a thumbs up emoji literally a few minutes before he evidently passed. We are all still in shock. He was a friend to everybody and a great Jamaican. We will miss him," he said.

In a written tribute Desmond Shakespeare, a friend of Gordon's who also attended Excelsior and Howard University, remembered him not only as a "silky smooth" footballer who scored freely from midfield, but as a multitalented individual.

"At Excelsior he [Gordon] had distinguished himself academically as well as athletically, representing the school in five [football, basketball, hockey, cricket and track and field] different sports, eventually being called up to represent Jamaica in three — hockey, basketball and football."

Shakespeare noted that Gordon generously gave back to his alma mater and "became one of the major contributors" to the school's athletics programme.

"His benevolence and selflessness seemed to know no bounds. In fact, he's been the benefactor of a number of causes, especially to do with his native land Jamaica and Jamaicans," he stated.

Shakespeare added: "With all of his successes and his corporate executive status Banky was [as] at home among the socialites as he was comfortable amongst the common man, the man in the street. He never lost touch with his humble beginnings, having and making time for all and sundry.

"He was a cultured man, one who was knowledgeable, educated, and proficient in a wide range of fields. Truly, this is the hallmark of a modern renaissance man."

Excelsior alumnus Duane Coombs, another friend of Gordon's, also described a man driven by kindness.

"The ever-smiling Bancroft was a genuinely nice person with an enduring passion for philanthropy and social engagement.

"He was committed to improving the lives of those who came after him. He took his role as a role model very seriously, and saw himself as a living example that success on the field and in the classroom was not mutually exclusive.

"Banky had served for several decades as mentor to various aspiring sportsmen and scholar athletes from Jamaica and in his adopted home," Coombs stated in a tribute.

— Sanjay Myers

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