Longtime Northland community leader Gerald Gorman, spent his life working with, and for, the community he called home.
“He was such a steady, quiet supporter,” daughter Gwen Royle said. “Honestly, he was involved in so many causes. I didn’t even know them all.”
Gorman died Sept. 24 from leukemia. He was 83.
Gerald spent almost an entire lifetime in the Kansas City area, leaving only when he was a young man to attend school and serve in the Army.
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“He was born in Clay County before there was a hospital,” his wife, Anita Gorman, said.
Gorman, who studied at Harvard College and then the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of the first in the Northland to attend the renown university.
“It was back in the days when we didn’t know people that went to Harvard,” longtime family friend Ray Brock said.
He came home, though, and went on to practice tax and estate planning in Kansas City, as well as establish deep roots in the area where he grew up and had met his wife, Anita, a well-known and active civic leader.
Gerald and Anita met in middle school, and went on to become high school debate partners at North Kansas City High School.
“My mom likes to joke that they’ve been debating ever since,” Royle said.
Anita Gorman’s name is familiar to many, thanks to the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center . But their long-time dedication to local civics and nonprofit work was a team effort.
“She ran quarterback for so very, very many causes,” Brock said. “He didn’t get the publicity. She deserved it very much, but he was very much the quiet support.”
His daughters both remember the way he supported their family, their mother, and the Northland, and Anita talks of a husband who helped her outreach efforts.
“He was the quiet one standing next to her,” his daughter, Vicki Jacoby, said. “If my dad had not been there to be the provider and the supporter, she never could have accomplished everything she did in the community. He did not like the limelight or the attention at all.”
Although active in the community at large, Gorman had an especially soft spot for the area that was his home for so long.
“Even though he worked south of the river, anything that was north of the river he felt a little bit closer to,” Jacoby said.
Gerald received the Northland Community Foundation’s Pinnacle Award in 2013, was inducted into the North Kansas City High School Hall of Fame in 2007 and was Zona Rosa’s Grand Marshall in 2013. He attended Avondale United Methodist Church from 1960 onward, and later served as chairman of the trustees for 30 years. He also helped with efforts to get Kansas City International Airport to its present Northland location.
He was a trustee of the Kansas City Museum, and he served on the Clay County Disabilities Board and the Clay County Economic Development Commission. He was also on the board of directors of the Spofford Home.
“He was civic-minded, and worked for so many good causes,” Brock said. “What a loss it is for our community, and our entire city, not just the Northland.”
Among his many local activities, Gorman served as a trustee on the Kansas City Police Retirement System.
When he turned 80, Gorman offered to step down from more than 30 years in the position to make room for someone younger to take up the task, but they declined.
“They told him, ‘No thank you,’ and replied that they’d see him at the next meeting,” Anita Gorman said.
The Police Commission honored him Oct. 11 at its board meeting.
Though especially tied to his home, he pushed his daughters to explore the country, taking his family to all 48 contiguous United States on long summertime road-trips.
His daughters remember a quiet a listener who never interrupted anyone. They also remember a man who was always dignified, and dressed the part.
“At our summer swim meets, other fathers would show up in Polos and shorts,” his daughter Vicki Jacoby said. “My dad would show up in a full suit and tie. That’s the way he went to work, to the dentist. That’s how he opened presents on Christmas Day.”
Shortly before his death, Royle deposited a check on her dad’s behalf, and told the bank tellers she was there on her father’s behalf because he was sick.
“Their faces just fell,” she said. “Thousands of people use that branch, but my dad had clearly made an impression on them.”