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Gordon Wickstrom

(April 26, 1926 - Sept. 18, 2014)

Gordon Minton Wickstrom died in Boulder, Colo., at the age of 88 on Sept. 18, 2014, after fighting cancer since the preceding April.

He was born on April 26, 1926, in Boulder. Wickstrom taught English and directed theater productions at Powell High School from 1950-1966, interrupted by Fulbright Scholarship study for one year in London. He left Powell to complete his Ph.D. degree in dramatic literature and criticism at Stanford University, which was awarded in 1968. In 2008, Wickstrom was made an honorary member of the PHS Alumni Association in recognition of his contributions to the PHS theater.

In 1968, he became an assistant professor of drama at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., where he served as department chair from 1976 until his retirement in 1990.

Upon retirement, he and his wife, Betty Jane Smith Wickstrom, also a Boulder native, returned to Boulder. They have lived since then in a house built in the backyard of the family home on Bluff Street, where both his grandparents, of Boulder City Bakery, and his parents lived.

Wickstrom was a master fly fisherman and fly-tier, who began fishing at age 12 with a rod and reel that his mother and father, Thelma and Percy Wickstrom, gave to him for his birthday.

His knowledge of Boulder Creek and the watersheds of the mountains surrounding Boulder, developed into many forms of writing and publication to which Wickstrom was devoted. He is the author of two books. “Notes from an Old Fly Book,” from University Press of Colorado came out in 2001, and “Late in an Angler’s Life,” from University of New Mexico Press, came out in 2004. He made many contributions to the distinguished The American Fly Fisher, the journal of The American Museum of Fly Fishing. 

For over 10 years he published two gazettes, cherished by readers across the country and internationally, The Bouldercreek Angler, and The Bouldercreek Actor. He also wrote for his blog, The Boulder Creek Angler (bouldercreekangler.blogspot.com), posting his last essay, “The Fisherman,” on Sept. 5.

He was a member of the Boulder Fly Casters and the illustrious Flyfishers’ Club of London. Wickstrom was a WWII veteran, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 until 1945. He received his degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder in English Literature in 1950, funded by the GI Bill of Rights.

His two daughters, Linnea and Maurya, were born, in 1951 and 1959 respectively, in Powell.

Over the years, Wickstrom directed over 100 plays, including directing and acting at The Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Upon retirement, and with J.H. Crouch as partner, he founded The Shakespeare Oratorio Society of Colorado in 1995. Each winter the society produced one of Shakespeare’s plays in their radically different “oratorical” format. Wickstrom played King Lear for the third time in the maiden production of the society.

He is survived by his wife of ­­­66 years, Betty Jane Wickstrom; his daughter Linnea Wickstrom and her spouse, Peter Maresca, and their son, Per Wickstrom-Maresca; daughter Maurya Wickstrom and her spouse, Joel Reynolds, and their son, Naoise Reynolds and their daughter, Erin Reynolds. He is also survived by his brother Phillip Wickstrom, the two who were, always, “Thelma and Percy’s boys.”

Gordon expressly did not wish his death to be an expense to his friends. But hospice helped care for him in the last month of his life so if you so desire, his family suggests a contribution to TRU CommunityCare.

A service was conducted Sept. 24.

Wickstrom asked that his friends be directed to Shakespeare’s Sonnet #73, and, in the spirit of Dean John Donne of St. Paul’s, think on death as the most interesting, exciting, mysterious and disastrous thing that can happen to us.

8 comments

  • posted by John Holderegger

    August 02, 2017 4:25 pm

    Linnea & Family,

    Linnea and I were married as children in the "Tom Thumb Wedding" we were both about 5. Your father was incredible and I remember very well you leaving for England and coming back one year ahead of me in school.
    All the very best,
    Your friend from 145 North Bernard, Powell. John Holderegger

  • posted by Chuck Sprague

    October 14, 2014 9:18 pm

    Betty and Girls:
    "Wicky" was the best, and lit a spark in my soul for literature and the arts. As a freshman, I learned to love him by working on the stage crews and became proficient working in the Light Booth for all auditorium productions. He talked me into trying out for plays my sophomore years and I never looked back. It has always been great to see him at Alumni Reunions. He will be missed, but what a memory I have! Chuck Sprague Class of 67

  • posted by Melanie Fisher

    October 13, 2014 10:00 am

    Linnea, my condolences to you and your family. I was 5 and under when you lived next door to us in Powell so sadly I don't remember your parents. I do remember that you were my favorite playmate at that time. Sincerely, Melanie Hoff, daughter of Felix and Bessie Hoff.

  • posted by LeRoy Lynnette Feusner, Class of 1963

    October 09, 2014 12:54 pm

    Gordon Wickstrom was one of the best PHS teachers during our high school years. His lectures and conversations in the Advanced Literature classes were always stimulating, and we continue to remember some of those experiences today.

  • posted by Hub Hart, Lt Col, USAF (Ret.), Class of 1959

    October 05, 2014 9:56 pm

    One of my mentors who taught me so much, not only about the theatre but life itself. Gads he taught us young pups so much in PHS. Interesting how nothing was mentioned about his trial and tribulations during WW-II, floating around in a life-raft for days and surviving. He was a model, mentor, tremendous teacher in PHS and such a gentleman. He brought Shakespeare to the big auditorium (now gone),Macbeth. King Lear and more. "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble." and finally,"out brief candle."

  • posted by Larry Lovercheck

    October 03, 2014 12:38 pm

    Gordon was a very strong influence in my life. I am very saddened at his passing.

  • posted by Francis Frank Carlson

    September 30, 2014 5:23 pm

    Of the many teachers and professors I have ever had, and that is many, he was by far the best. Fortunately, I was able to tell him that in 2008.

  • posted by Sherry Nay

    September 30, 2014 9:54 am

    He was such a unique and outstanding
    teacher and drama director at Powell High when I was there. I have never forgotten him.

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