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Gordon  Pradl
  • In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in memory of Gordon and Mary Ann Pradl at 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225
  • Brooklyn Botanical Garden
    1000 Washington Avenue
    Brooklyn , NY 11225

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Memories & Candles

“I first met Gordon and Mary Ann in 1984 when I rented their garden apartment. Mary Ann and I soon became fast friends had much fun in their garden,...Read More »
1 of 16 | Posted by: Susan Witz - Friend

“Gordon taught me many thingsgave me many gifts. Forbearance and patience, the gift of reflection and learning to truly listen to others are but a...Read More »
2 of 16 | Posted by: Andrew Weitz - Roslyn, NY

“Gordon served on my Ph.D. dissertation committee in the English Education Department and guided me with wit, intelligence, and patience. His wry...Read More »
3 of 16 | Posted by: Lynn Kearney - New York, NY

“So many memories amidst this sadness. Gordon was such a fine teacher, mentor and colleague. Like so many others I am grateful for Gordon's guidance,...Read More »
4 of 16 | Posted by: Alan Devenish - Elka Park, NY

“Gordon has been a neighbor and a friend for 40 years. I miss him every day. We shared many Holiday meals and lunches. He helped me edit my book....Read More »
5 of 16 | Posted by: David Licht - Brooklyn, NY

“Ave atque vale ”
6 of 16 | Posted by: A friend

“beloved colleague, mentor, dissertation chair, and dear friend...gentle, kind, wise, and caring...we both loved gardens... ”
7 of 16 | Posted by: Ron Janoff

“Gordon, our hearts are broken. You always made time for me as a student, and you welcomed me as a friend and mentor when I moved on afterwards. Thank...Read More »
8 of 16 | Posted by: Jill Jeffery - Student

“Gordon Pradl was a colleague and friend who was deeply generous and thoughtful. He always saw the forest for the trees. He smiled gently with a...Read More »
9 of 16 | Posted by: A friend

“A true progressive teacher/learner who inspired his students. We need more Gordon Pradls in our world. Sharon Shelton-Colangelo ”
10 of 16 | Posted by: Sharon Colangelo - Student

“You were one of my favorite professors, Gordon. You will be missed. So many memories. ”
11 of 16 | Posted by: Sasha Taublieb - NY

“You were one of a kind--a kind, generous, and empathetic advisor to so many of us in the English Education program. Rest in peace, Gordon. Your work...Read More »
12 of 16 | Posted by: A friend

“You will be missed - by your students of many years, family, friends - and your classmates at Amherst, who have long loved your bright intellect,...Read More »
13 of 16 | Posted by: A friend

“Your mentorship, your knowledge, your scholarship...but most of all your hand gestures, your chuckles, your wide-armed embraces...and still remember...Read More »
14 of 16 | Posted by: A friend

Lunch in december
15 of 16 | Posted by: A friend

“For over thirty years you brought friendship, trust, tolerance, respect, and honesty to our Teaching & Learning community , the students, colleagues,...Read More »
16 of 16 | Posted by: A friend


Heart Emblem

Gordon Morrell Pradl, a longtime professor of English education at New York University, died from complications of the coronavirus on April 17 at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y. He was 76 years old.

Gordon was born on December 6, 1943, in Montreal, Quebec, and grew up in Morristown, N.J. He graduated from Amherst College in 1965. Influenced by the college's freshman composition curriculum, he devoted his career to promoting progressive methods for the teaching of reading and writing. He taught high school in Hicksville, N.Y., while completing his M.A. degree at NYU, then went on to the Harvard Graduate School of Education program in language education. While writing his dissertation on the work of British teacher and scholar David Holbrook, he taught and served as the department chair at a junior high school in Newton, Mass.

During the 1970s, as New York City suffered a fiscal crisis and declines in the quality of public high schools, the City University of New York opened enrollments, granting broad access to post-secondary education. The admission of poorly prepared students at CUNY created an immediate need for remedial instructors at the college level. Gordon, hired at NYU in 1971, taught many of those instructors in the English Education Program, gently guiding graduate and doctoral students, and supervising scores of Ph.D. dissertations. A kind person with an insightful mind, he was insatiably curious, resolute, and brave in his thinking. He engaged with both students and colleagues by asking questions, and he skillfully entertained diverse points of view.

At NYU, he also founded and directed the English Education Study Abroad Program with Geoffrey Summerfield at the University of York and Oxford University. Students spent life-changing summer months in Britain, visiting schools and working with many of the most influential thinkers and teachers in English education, including James Britton, whose selected essays Gordon edited. He also trained hundreds of expository writing instructors for NYU's College of Arts and Science. For many years, he co-edited English Education, the journal of the English education section of the National Council of Teachers of English.

He wrote and published many articles and books, including Literature for Democracy, which in an era of high-stakes testing and individual performance argues that reading is a social act, and the teaching of literature must never be authoritarian. He served from 1999 through 2002 as the principal investigator on a research project concerned with reviving New York City's public schools funded by the Annenberg Foundation.

In 2010, after retiring from the Department of Teaching and Learning, which he had helped to establish 20 years earlier, he lent his editorial skills to his friends and colleagues, helping them to complete books. For the past five years, he belonged to the "Tuesday Lecture & Discussion Group," and one member recalls that he "never met anyone who had such a big heart and such a big intellect."

A fine cabinetmaker and craftsman, Gordon created many beautiful and useful objects from lumber and furniture he found on the street. He renovated and decorated a historic Brooklyn brownstone with antiques he collected with Mary Ann Carme Pradl, his wife of 52 years. Gordon and Mary Ann appreciated gardening, the arts, and classical music, and shared those loves with others through their patronage of public institutions. He also cherished his neighborhood, especially the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where he walked almost every day. With home health workers, he cared for Mary Ann who lived for 15 years with advanced dementia. Mary Ann's sister Josephine recalls that Gordon applied his intellect and resourcefulness to her sister's care as if it were an intellectual problem to be solved. Mary Ann died at home, a few days before Gordon's admission to the hospital. Family, friends, and generations of former students treasure his example of a good and committed life lived with generosity and thoughtfulness.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in memory of Gordon and Mary Ann Pradl at 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225.