May 30, 2001, San Jose Mercury News
Vee Ross and Xavier Gordon were engaged only a short time when tests revealed that the muscular ex-football player who lit up rooms with a smile was locked in a life-and-death struggle with leukemia.
But each had met the person of their dreams. So, Mr. Gordon phoned his fiancee's father and asked for his daughter's hand in marriage. Then, he popped the question. They married in September.
Mr. Gordon, a former student body president at Santa Clara University, known affectionately as ``X'' to his many friends, died May 15 in Walnut Creek before a bone marrow match could be found. He was 29.
Besides his wife and other family members, Mr. Gordon leaves behind an award-winning, banana-yellow Mustang GT he doted on, three cherished dogs named Styx and Stonz and Roxx, well-used collections of James Bond movies, hip-hop and Louis Armstrong music, and a void those who knew him say can never be filled.
``He was a fun-loving guy who loved kids, and they loved him,'' said Declan Wyrick, 32, of San Francisco. ``I doubt I will be blessed enough to meet anyone else like him in my life. He was a wonderful man. Charisma oozed out of every pore in his body, he could walk into a room and light it up without saying a word, just by smiling.''
Born in Urbana, Ill., Mr. Gordon grew up in San Francisco and graduated from Riordan High School in 1990. A lineman on Riordan's football team, he was given a full scholarship to the U.S. Naval Academy's prep school and planned to go on to Annapolis.
An avid San Francisco 49ers fan, he also dreamed of one day playing for the team.
But military life was not for him, and after a year he transferred to Santa Clara University, where he majored in accounting and finance, and played on scholarship as a defensive lineman. In his senior year, after the football program was canceled, he was elected student body president.
After graduation in 1995, he was recruited by Hewlett-Packard in Cupertino, where he worked as a financial analyst and where he met his future wife.
They became fast friends, said Vee Gordon, of Tracy, who loved his smile, his sense of humor, his thoughtfulness.
They each knew ``right off the bat that this was the one,'' she said, noting that they commuted to jobs in Cupertino and Palo Alto from Tracy.
``He was this guy with huge arms and chest and shoulders, he was 6 feet 2 inches, 240 pounds, but he had this big smile and he was so approachable,'' she said. ``He was just like a big teddy bear, the sweetest personality, funny and friendly and very caring.''
And then there was Curious George, the cartoon monkey. The big football player who longed to be a father and a family man just couldn't get enough of the kids' cartoon character.
Indeed, his curious affinity for Curious George became so much his trademark that friends showered him with Curious George novelties to adorn his desk and home.
He loved taking photos of the day trips he and his wife took to Reno and Disneyland and had big plans to brush up on his Spanish, learn French and Italian and even tackle Swahili.
``We talked about how great it would be to learn a language like that and then maybe travel to Africa,'' his wife said.
``He had a quest for knowledge, he was always learning new things,'' recalled Wyrick.
Terry Malley coached Mr. Gordon at Santa Clara and now is head coach of the San Jose SaberCats.
``He was a special young man, a leader. People followed him, he had a great way with people, he was sort of everything you're looking for in a young man,'' said Malley. ``We need more people like X, not less, people like him make a difference in our society.''
Xavier A. ``X'' Gordon
Born: March 14, 1972, in Urbana, Ill.
Died: May 15, 2001, in Walnut Creek.
Survived by:Wife, Vee Gordon, of Tracy, parents, Jocelyn Gordon and Alvin Cook, brother, Edward Cook.
Services: Have been held.
Memorial: His wife requests donations and donor registration in his name to the National Marrow Donor Program, www.marrow.org or (800) 366-6711.