Gordon Paul Loptson, 86, of Willow Street, Pennsylvania, passed away peacefully with his loving family by his side on May 13, 2014. A gifted teacher, Gordon’s life-long commitment to his faith and love of learning led him across countries and continents, and included such diverse occupations as farm hand, painter, pastor, missionary, counselor, teacher, college professor, and labor analyst. As a child, his love of learning even led him to read the Encyclopedia Britannica cover-to-cover for fun.
Born in Stockton, California on July 31, 1927 to Faith Clara Hoerl and Alexander Magnus Loptson, Gordon and his brother Mel spent their childhoods between Stockton, the Central British School in Hong Kong, and his parents’ home in the Philippines, where his parents served as missionaries. During World War II, Gordon finished high school at the Westervelt Home for Missionary Children in South Carolina, while his parents were prisoners of war at Los Baños Internment Camp, where they were among the 2,147 prisoners rescued at dawn.
In 1949, Gordon received his Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Wheaton College, and in 1950, he married classmate Virginia Louise Piepgrass. He received his Master in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1954, attended Nyack College in 1954. He taught with Ginny at Canadian Bible College before they headed to Ecuador as missionaries for six years, where they started a church in Otavalo and Gordon served as director of the Instituto Biblico de La Alianza in Guayaquil. A life-long learner, Gordon completed post-doctoral studies at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1963; received his M.S. in Education and Spanish at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967; and his M.A. in Counseling from Rider University in 1982.
After moving from Pennington, NJ to Willow Valley Communities in 2004, he joined Westminster Presbyterian Church and Spring Run Men’s Bible Class. He helped found the Foreign Policy Discussion Group, grew roses and pursued his passion for history and music. More recently, he resided at Lakeside, where he led a bible group, and entertained staff and residents alike with his gentle wit and puns, as well as hymn singing.
Gordon is survived by his wife of 63 years Virginia Loptson, daughter Carol Loftur-Thun and son-in-law Robert Loftur-Thun, grand-daughters Kaitlin Hoerl Loftur-Thun and Hayley Tracey Loftur-Thun, nephews Paul Gordon Loptson Ferwerda and David Melvin Loptson Ferwerda, and many other loving nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Loptson and brother Melvin Ernest Loptson.
A memorial service will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Lancaster, PA on Saturday, May 31st with family visitation at 10 am, and a service at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to ALIVE! (Alexandrians InVolved Ecumenically), 2723 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22302.