Gordon Mackenzie Harrington, who was a longterm member of IMS, died in 2015 aged 90, but we only learned about his death recently.
The following is condensed from an obituary that appeared in the Waterloo Courier, and was reproduced on the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) website.
Gordon Harrington of Waterloo died of natural causes on December 31, 2015. He was born on April 12, 1925 in Knoxville, and spent his childhood and teen years living in Tennessee, Canada, and Georgia. Serving in the US Navy during World War II, Gordon had a profound shift in his thinking about racism, which became the foundation for the rest of his personal and professional life. Once discharged from the Navy, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. While teaching mathematics there in 1946, he became friends with a young African-American professor at Morehouse University, Atlanta; his awareness of discrimination and racism grew, and he became an anti-racist ally. Gordon was persuaded to study ministry at Yale, and eventually became a minister at the New London, Connecticut, Unitarian Universalist (UU) church. His major professor at Yale then encouraged Gordon to shift from religion to Child Development in the Departments of Education, Psychology, and Child Psychiatry, where he earned a PhD in Child Development. His career path began as a research consultant for the State of Connecticut Board of Regents for five years, then into academia, first in Ohio, then Coe College (Cedar Rapids), and eventually in 1963 to the State College of Iowa (which became UNI) as a professor of research, child development, and statistics in the Department of Psychology for the rest of his career, retiring in the early 1990s. With Gordon’s professional focus remaining on race relations, he pondered how racial views and religious views develop, and what the individual differences are in such development. He came to the view that race could not be defined genetically; rather, it was a social phenomenon. This was cutting-edge thinking at the time; and the importance of his research findings was recognized by an article in Nature in December 1975. Gordon continued research in areas of intelligence and genetic interactions throughout the rest of his career, publishing many research articles and presenting at national and international conferences. Gordon’s volunteer activities included chairing the first Cedar Falls Human Rights Commission, 1974–83; he joined the national and State of Iowa Civil Rights Unions and was Treasurer of the State organization; he was involved in the establishment of the Iowa Civil Liberties Foundation. He remained an active member of his local UU congregation. He was known for his love of chatting with others and telling stories about his life. He was widowed in 2014, and was survived by two of his three sons.