Derek Gordon, who in 2006 returned to his native Baton Rouge to become CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, died Sept. 10. He was 57.
“He's just one of those individuals whose void you can't even try to fill,” says Gerri Hobdy, chairwoman of the Louisiana State Arts Council.
Before returning to Baton Rouge, Gordon spent three years with Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, where he was senior vice president, president and CEO. Before that, he was senior vice president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., for 12 years.
“He wanted to come back to Baton Rouge and contribute to his home after coming from the national and international stage, which really speaks to his personality and his commitment to his hometown,” says BRAF President and CEO John Davies. “It's a monstrous loss for our community.”
Gordon created the River City Jazz Masters series, worked to revitalize Old South Baton Rouge through the arts, and provided “greater access to the arts for the entire community,” the arts council says.
“We're not elitist in what we do,” Gordon once told 225 magazine. “It's all about getting people involved. We try to be a part of everything in Baton Rouge.”
According to his obituary, Gordon “passed away peacefully … following an extended illness.” His partner of 13 years, Rodolfo Ramirez, and other loved ones were by Gordon's side. Gordon had been on medical leave from his Arts Council post since July.
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