Memorial to Gordo Smalley from his friends..

  1. Gordo Smalley Alameda 001.jpgGordo Prom Alameda 001.jpg

Gordo in the Delta 001.jpgGordo on the Smalleee 001.jpg

  1. Please leave your memories, funny stories and experiences of Gordo Smalley.  I, his Mother need to hear them to heal my terrible grief. Drugs and Alcohol stole his adulthood. And his death was so tragic and embarrassing.  He was born in a 23 room mansion in Piedmont, Ca. grew up on a Yacht in Jack London Square, had a happy childhood with many friends on Bay Farm Island, Alameda, Ca. and died homeless, choking on his own vomit due to his Alcohol addiction.This shameful legacy has been more of a burden to deal with then his actual death for me his Mother. I thought if I were to have a memorial for Gordo, there would be no one to invite.  He was without friends,  as with so many drug and alcohol addicted,  he had burned those close to him, friends and family. A person without friends is totally Bankrupt!  ZERO!  Without value!  A wasted life..
  2. I truly believe, Gordo knowing my pain and shame and loving me as he did,  sent me his childhood friend   Drew Van Diggelen.  Drew says Gordo was on his mind lately and spurred him to search for him online. That is how he found out about Gordo’s death and contacted me.

Drew, has taken on the task of doing a memorial to Gordo.  He remembers him before the drugs and alcohol claimed him.  It is so wonderful that he is contacting Gordo’s childhood friends and asking them to leave comments on this page. There is no doubt that Drew is heaven sent; {Gordo sent} to help me with my grief.  I need to hear of the good times and the positive things of Gordo’s life.  So,  I can lift my head up from the darkness of shame and guilt and self blame that all parents put themselves through for their children’s failures.

There are over 100 hits on my blog about Gordo’s death today and yesterday, thanks to Drew’s efforts.

Please leave your comments under this article.  There are 181 comments after my story of Gordo’s death and only about five are about Gordo.  So, please, let us make this page a memorial to Gordo. Send your messages you would like to give to Gordo and tell positive stories of your experience of him.

Drew is working on putting together a Sea Casting of Gordo’s ashes.  You can contact him if you want to be part of that ceremony.

In the mean time please make this page a Celebration of Gordo.



  1. Dear Mary,

    I just found this page. I am heartbroken to read this story. Merritt (as he at times insisted to be referred to) was my very best friend growing up. Some of the best days of my childhood was spent with him and your family aboard the Mariner 2. I have so many great memories out on the bay, or just late night runs to Nation’s with him for pie.

    I can not count all the ways I grew from having Gordo in my life. We became men together and I fed off of his confidence. I must take a few minutes and brag about him as I knew him. He was so proud to work aboard the Mariner for you. It was with great pride he helped clients , pride that came from your trust in him. He was a man long before he needed to be, he taught me to cook, comb my hair, talk to girls, and how to be a great friend.

    I was not aware of his stealing. We considered your son a part of our family and he ALWAYS showed respect and manners around my folks. I lost touch with Merritt after he moved up north (Rio Vista I think). I did see him about 10 years ago, he stopped by and visited me in Livermore. He said he was working at a Denny’s as a cook. He seemed a little lost and I remember wishing there was more I could do for him.

    Mary, I am so saddened for your loss of David, and now Gordo. I want you to know that a bit of his Merritt’s spirit still lives on in me. I would not be the Man I am today with out Gordo in my life, and I thank you for everything you did for us.


    P.S. I go by Drew these days, also your son

About marysfarmreport

__From Yachts to Manure___... I have lived in a 9,000 square foot mansion in Piedmont, Ca. to homesteading a mobile home and living without running water or electricity for six months in Oroville, California. These are some tales of my adventures. From traveling the world with my Airline Executive late husband to , operating a Yacht Charter Business on San Francisco Bay as a widow with young children, to retiring to a Ranch in Oroville and raising horses and fancy pure bred dogs. Come join me on my adventures as I write this blog..
This entry was posted in Death..grief..sorrow...coping...mending, Sailor Daddy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Memorial to Gordo Smalley from his friends..

  1. Bobbi says:

    Mary I don`t personally know you nor your son, does not matter. My heart grieves for you and the lost of your child. No one should have to go through what you have. For whatever reason your son choice drugs and alcohol over life may remain a mystery. Let your heart and your open mind bring back the happier days that will forever fill your heart with joy. Take care Mary. may your Gordo rest in Peace.
    May the road rise to meet you,
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    The rains fall soft upon your fields.
    And until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

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  3. angela says:

    Good Morning Mary
    I am so sorry that we have not spoken in sometime. I apologize for not being able to meet with you the weekend that we had planned. I had quite a scare with my mom. She ended up in the hospital, she thought she was having a stroke. It ended not being a stroke, her blood pressure was so high she was having stroke like symptoms. She has very very high blood pressure that is still not under control but she is doing better.
    Things have gotten better with my mom and i am not so afraid to go off and leave her now and my son is finally done with baseball so I have time to meet you.
    You are always on my mind and I felt like I had known you my whole life when we spoke on the phone. I could hear the deep sense of loss in your voice and i felt like god brought me to you on that day for a reason and then I did not make it over to your house. For that I am so sorry.
    Please give me a call when you have time and lets get together for real this time. I feel like you need me in your life and I know I have room for you in mine.

    All my love

  4. Phyllis says:

    I was saddened to hear of Gordo’s death from my daughter Cynthia, who was his classmate at
    St. Paul’s School. My position at the School was religion/moral development teacher. Cynthia was small and feisty and often sparred with Gordo, but when we would remenisce about St. Paul days we would both remember him fondly, with his carrot top and Tom Sawyer smile.
    A family crisis led us to Southern California where I pursued a 25-year career facilitating groups for teens and their parents in a short-term shelter, so I met many Gordos. Some children – and parents – self-medicated in the face of their pain. Many we sent home with their families with hopes of new beginning, but some we lost. It brings tears to my eyes to think of happy-go-lucky Gordo as among that number of beautiful children who slipped out of our reach.
    My heart goes out to you as a mother, and I can only hope that, as time does its slow, partial process of healing, the good memories and love shared will outweigh the pain.
    Phyllis Phillips

    • Dear Phyllis,
      Thank so much for your heart felt note. It helps. My pain is to the bone. Gordo had so much potential. It so saddens me that his life was so wasted. My friends assure me that I did everything I could for him but I am riddled with guilt. How could the life of my “Shining little Copper Penny” become so tarnished and ultimately tossed away? I loved him so much. But love is not enough. I could not love him to a successful life. I tried. I really did try.
      My more than a son; Dean Radcliffe died this past June of cancer. His story is on my blog. I mentored him for over 35 years. When he died we all celebrated his life. I miss him, but I don’t have the dark, gut ugly pain that I have with Gordo’s death. There was little to celebrate in Gordo’s life. He left such a wake of disaster. His failure in life is so sad.

      My oldest son David died three years ago of heart disease. His story is also, on my blog. I am so weary of burying my babies.

      I am busy writing my book and hope to have one finished by the end of the year. Then my great blessing in life, my wonderful husband; Ron can retire and hopefully we will be traveling around to book signings. A new adventure.

      I just put one foot in front of the other and life goes on..


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