May 28, 2020


Gordon James Oatman

Gordon James Oatman, 80, longtime resident of Williston, passed away at home on Monday, April 9th, after a yearlong battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Surrounded by his family, he died gracefully.

Born on September 2nd, 1937 to Frances and James Oatman of Bennington Vermont, Gordon was a Cub Scout, varsity athlete and younger brother to sister Joyce. He enjoyed a largely outdoor childhood, including fishing and hunting, both of which became lifelong passions.

After attending Bennington High School and St. Michael’s College, Gordon earned his degree from Keene Teachers College, where he met his future wife, Shirley Ann (Lambert) Oatman. He was a member of the Kappa Delta Phi fraternity. Following his induction into the United States Army, he served honorably in South Korea from June 1960 to June 1962. His Master of Teaching degree in Graphic Arts was earned at Rochester Institute of Technology.

A Roman Catholic, Gordon attended The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Williston, and was involved in the social life of his parish. A member of the family-run co-op, Brownell Mountain, he taught his sons to ski and appreciate nature as a church of its own.

For over 30 years he was a fondly regarded industrial arts teacher in South Burlington, both at the Middle School and later at the High School, where he taught drafting. He was active in the Town of Williston, co-chairing the 4th of July Celebration in 1976 with his wife Shirley, and helped build the town bandstand. Civic-minded, Gordon was on the board of directors for Allenbrook, a co-educational residential facility for challenged youth, and served as president of the Shelburne Bay Boat Club for several terms.

Between school years, Gordon built houses and took fine woodworking commissions with Orvis and the H.L. Leonard Rod Company. For over three decades he collaborated with his artist son Michael on numerous works. In October 2016, they exhibited together for the last time at the Lake George Arts Project with a show entitled, “Oatman & Father, Sign Makers.”

Gordon’s family remembers him as a loyal, dependable, helpful, intellectually curious and humorous man. He loved being a husband, grandfather, father, mentor and friend. He is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Shirley; their children, Michael and Thomas, and Thomas’ family: wife Gretchen, daughters Annie and Katherine, and sons Matthew and Gordon; his sister Joyce Sambogna, and her children, Linda, Doreen and John; his niece Judy Catelli, his nephew Jimmy Catelli and his nephew Jack Stone.

A wake is scheduled for 5-7 pm, Thursday April 12th at Corbin & Palmer Funeral Home, 9 Pleasant Street, Essex Junction. Services will be held at 11am on Friday, April 13th at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Williston. Celebration immediately to follow at Catamount Country Club, 1400 Mountain View Road, also in Williston, VT. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, 1 VA Center, Augusta, ME, 04330.