Gordon Williamson

Gordon Williamson


March 8, 1940 - December 17, 2022


Gordon Morris Williamson, a decorated Navy pilot and Vietnam veteran, passed away on December 17, 2022, at the age of 82 at his residence in Mitchell South Dakota. A Celebration of Life will be Thursday, May 11, 2023, from 5-7:00 PM at Bittner Funeral Chapel. Graveside services with military honors will be 1:00 PM Friday, July 28, 2023, at the Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, SD.

Gordon (fondly called Gordy and Gordo by many) was born on March 8, 1940, to Mr. Alvin Wayne Williamson and Mrs. Dorothy Madeline (Gurney) Williamson in Mitchell, South Dakota.  He was a descendant of the Norwegian and English immigrants who settled in South Dakota.

After graduating from Mitchell High School in 1958, he went on to study at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.  He was an active member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Gamma Alpha chapter, serving as Pledge Educator.  He continued to support the chapter after graduating into his later years. 

Upon graduating from the University of South Dakota in January 1963 with an A.B. in Arts and Sciences (Mathematics), Gordon joined the United States Navy and entered the Naval Aviation Officer’s School in NAS Pensacola, Florida as an Aviation Officer Candidate earning his wings with the rank of Ensign on May 24, 1963.  Gordon completed multiple flight training tours, including Advanced Flight Training as a H-13 and H-34 helicopter pilot.  He was stationed in NAS Rota Spain and served as a H-2 helicopter pilot.  Gordon was then deployed on the USS Blue and served as a Search and Rescue pilot and on the USS Constellation as Plane Guard.   In January 1968, he was stationed in Meridian, Mississippi, and transitioned to Jet airplanes as a flight instructor and primary Jet trainer with Training Squadron 7.  In 1970 he was stationed in NAS Miramar, California, and transitioned to flying the F-4 Phantom II fighter jet.  He completed multiple tours of duty flying the F-4 Phantom II fighter jet with the VF-92 Sliver Kings fighter squadron off the USS Constellation on missions over Vietnam.  Gordon was also stationed at NAS China Lake and NAS North Island during his final years with the Navy as a test pilot.  Gordon served his country and the United States Navy honorably for twenty years, finally retiring in 1983 with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  Gordon was awarded numerous medals and citations including the Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with 2 Gold Stars, Air Medal Strike Flight, and Air Medal with 2 Gold Stars.  

After retiring from the Navy, Gordon pursued his passion for the outdoors.  He moved to Alaska and was a bush pilot and enjoyed hunting (shot a black bear) and fishing for King Salmon in the Kenai River.   In the later 80s, Gordon lived in Minnesota and Arizona obtaining his professional golf certification and working as a golf pro for many country clubs.   To be closer to his daughter, Gordon moved to Apopka Florida in 1990 and became active in the bird dog training community, establishing his own dog training program and kennel known as War Bird Dogs.  He also enjoyed bass fishing and planting orange and key lime trees in Florida. 

In the early 2000s, Gordon moved back to Mitchell and enjoyed building his property, planting corn and soybeans, fishing on the local lake, and planning annual pheasant and deer hunting adventures with friends. He also farmed in Aurora County, close to his former grandparents Maurice and Ida (Lien) Williamson.  During his later years in Mitchell, Gordon loved going to town wearing his favorite pair of red boots and driving his red Corvette. 

Throughout his years, Gordon made life-long friendships.  If he was your friend, he did not take that commitment lightly and cherished the bonds and memories he made.  Gordon got a kick out of sharing stories, especially those that would make you laugh to tears.  Gordon also loved teaching and sharing his knowledge with others.  Of course, he had set opinions on many topics which he rarely wavered.  Over the years Gordon had many hobbies. He loved to fly, dance, sing, paint (loved his paint pens and puffy paints), draw, build (made an entire dollhouse), carve, whittle, make knives, hunt, fish, trap/skeet shoot, farm, rebuild cars (57 Chevy for one), journal, write hand letters (a written thank you note was a must!), collect guns, cars, and motorcycles and even invest in the stock market.   He was very meticulous and if he was going to do something, he was going to accomplish it and do it the best he could.  One of the favorite reminders he shared with his daughter, was never to cry over spilled milk.  He dedicated his life to serving his country and commit to leading a life well lived, staying true to his core values and cherishing time with his dearest friends and family.  

Gordon will be remembered as a loving devoted father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend along with his passion for the outdoors, witty sense of humor, intelligence, love of dogs, and loyalty who was an American hero and served his country with honor.

Gordon is survived by his one daughter, Alana (Williamson) Barkley, and three grandchildren James Stewart Walker III, Charles Gordon Walker, and Adaline Claire Barkley all from Alpharetta, Georgia.  He is also survived by his sister VeeAnne Sykora of Belvidere, Illinois, niece Lyn Wallis, of Dexter, Missouri, and nephew, David Sykora, of Southport, North Carolina. 



Thursday, May 11, 2023
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Bittner Funeral Chapel
805 W Havens Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301


Friday, July 28, 2023
1:00 PM
Black Hills National Cemetery
Sturgis, SD


Black Hills National Cemetery
Sturgis, SD

Posted by VeeAnne (Williamson) Sykora on May 10, 2023
Gordy and I were two years apart growing up in Mitchell in the 40's and 50's. We didn't have many "extras" growing up, but Mitchell offered all we could want or need to enjoy life and nurture our hobbies. Gordy flourished in crafts and artistry -- wood carving, leather tooling, sculping, and painting. His patience and drive for perfection were admirable. His crafts were treasured gifts. He became an avid golfer, hunter, fisherman, and dog whisperer.

Regardless of the event, participants, or setting, Gordy made it fun and engaging for all. He was incredibly knowledgeable about a wide range of topics and a real intellectual.

I was in awe of Gordy. He was the adventurous spirit set on experiencing all the world had to offer. He was a constant tease to his older sister, which I didn't always appreciate, but I admired him and loved him. We will all miss him.
Posted by Dave Sykora on May 8, 2023
Uncle Gordy was larger than life to me growing up. He was a thrill to be around whether on an outing or simply playing cards with family over the holidays. He was so engaging and fascinating to talk with and unbelievably talented. He was able to find the best gifts from around the world. I was so proud of his service w/ USN and enjoyed the exchange of cassette tapes to hear how he was doing on the USS Constellation. I didn't make the cut for Naval ROTC and would never have made the grade as a Naval Aviator, but that didn't hold me back from wanting to be an "F4 Jock" like Gordy.

Posted by Andrew J. Severson DDS on April 12, 2023
Gordy was an upper class man when I was initiated into Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He was one of the main movers and go to brothers in the fraternity. He being 3 years older than I, we were not overly close. I appreciated and liked Gordy. l will miss him as part of my early lifes
Posted by Jim (Fritz) Forney on April 7, 2023
I am not sure why, but I just received the news of Gordo’s death. Ironic, but I had talked to Gordo just a couple of days before his passing.
I wii never forget the many hours we spent hunting together, from elk hunting in Colorado, the many grouse and pheasant hunts, and many goose hunts at my farm in Stanley County.
Gordo was a very special, unigue individual. He was a patriot, hero and great friend and Brother.
I will see you on the “Other Side” Gordy!

Posted by Gary Whidden on April 7, 2023
Fellow Beta Brother. Gordie was a great friend and Brother, I am sorry for his passing. I honor our time together at USD our Beta Brotherhood and and his service to our country. RIP Gordie.
Posted by William Harrington on April 6, 2023
Gordy and I were roommates in the Beta house at USD for 3 years a great roommate and friend. I will
Always mis him as he was a special friend and brother
Posted by Vince Flynn on April 6, 2023
Fair winds and following seas to my Beta Brother. Gordy and I shared many aviation stories over the years. I remember one dinner he hosted for his South Dakota U. friends at NAS Miramar in the early '70's. I cherish my US Army coffee cup he gifted me. Forever memories.
Posted by Vanessa (Spaans) Evans on March 7, 2023
Gordie was a friend of my dads when we lived in Mitchell in the early 2000s, I believe they took a fishing trip to Canada. I was young but he was the sweetest soul and I remember hearing about him training dogs. Rest in peace.
Posted by Dave "Frito" Garcia on January 16, 2023
You are the older brother that I never had. Room mates aboard the USS Constellation with VF-92 flying F4 Phantoms over the friendly skies of Vietnam. I was in your wedding. You were the best man at mine. Fishing. Hunting. Going to the "Yotes and Mustang" football games. Standing tall together when the stadium announcer asked we Vietnam Vets be honored. Working in wood. Teaching each other how to smoke salmon. Helping you farm in Mitchell, SD. Dodging SAMS and AAA. Sharing the sad times over lost shipmates, and the good times over new grand kids and family. All of these things were part of my time spent with who I will always consider, not only my brother in arms, but my big brother and teacher and best friend. Check six shipmate. And may all of your landings be OK three's. The memories of a full life shared. Rest in peace brother.
Posted by George Economos on January 11, 2023
Gordy was a very special guy. I left Mitchell for the Army in 1961 & moved to California in 1964 so was mostly an email buddy. About 1980 Gordy called from San Diego & wanted my Son Steve & Andy Props' son Mike to come to San Diego for a tour of an Aircraft Carrier. The boys were about 10 years old & will never forget that tour. I was one class ahead of Gordy in Mitchell but each time I came to town for a Mitchell High Class reunion he would come visit me & we would often get a steak at Chef Louie's. Great guy!! RIP Gordy!!
Posted by Paul B Van Buren on January 7, 2023
Gordy and I were Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers at USD and friends for many years thereafter. He was a great Beta and person and will be missed by all who knew him.
Posted by Dan Fergen on December 23, 2022
He was a great neighbor. I enjoyed our many visits. He helped me sight in my rifles. He was proud of his apple trees. He talked to me about his time flying in the service and how he got to be a pilot. I will miss him as he was a great man
Posted by Paul Williamson on December 21, 2022
Gordon and I met back in 1975 when we were both on active duty with the Navy and serving with Tactical Air Control Squadron ONE. Although we were both originally from South Dakota we were not related by blood but we were now in the Navy family. There just happened to be one other Williamson in our 80 person squadron. Again, no relation. Gordon was a Lieutenant Commander and I was an up an coming enlisted Sailor who eventually retired as a Commander. Gordon was a role model and (as we say in the Navy) a good shipmate. Fair winds and following seas!!
Posted by Dennis & Robin Brakke on December 21, 2022
Our deepest sympathy to you Alana and family. We are deeply saddened by Gordy‘s passing. Our first encounter with Gordy was more than 25 years ago when he answered an ad regarding training our hunting dogs. From that day to this it was instant friendship. Gordy was not only a friend who helped us guide when we had pheasant hunters he attended birthday parties graduations holidays went fishing with the guys he even went to Arizona with us. Gordy was family! One of my most proud memories of Gordy and there are many was when we took him to see the movie Top Gun. Gordy got out of his car wearing the flight jacket and carrying his helmet that he had worn when he flew jets off the USS Constellation Aircraft carrier during the Vietnam war. He had this huge smile on his face and you could see how proud he was, and rightly so. Thank you Gordy for serving our country we are so proud of you. Forever missed will be his calls, the lunches the jokes the fishing trips and that crazy smile, and the red cowboy boots!
Posted by Margaret Husman on December 21, 2022
Sorry to hear of Gordie's passing.
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