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Dec 18, 2017 4:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sara Jane Auchincloss Gordon Dies December 5

Dec 18, 2017 4:18 PM

Sara Jane Auchincloss Gordon, 85, dedicated conservationist, passionate gardener and accomplished athlete died December 5, 2017, after a brief illness.

A lifelong resident of Short Hills, New Jersey, and Bridgehampton, she was an active member of the communities in which she resided: she served Christ Church of Short Hills as an altar guild member, was a board member of the Short Hills Club, of the Short Hills Beautification League, past president of the Short Hills Garden Club and served the Garden Clubs of America as the president of Zone 4. She was a longtime director and former vice president of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

Ms. Gordon—“SJ” or “Muzzie” as she was known to friends and family—was born on April 8, 1932, the middle child of Jean Schnell Auchincloss and William Stuart Auchincloss of Short Hills. She attended the Short Hills Country Day School, and graduated from the Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, Connecticut, and Vassar College (1954) in Poughkeepsie. Right out of college she began working for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and then became chairman of the board of Schnell Publishing, a family publishing company that produced Oil, Paint and Drug Reporter, representing the chemical process industry.

She married Jeremy Gordon, an investment counselor also of Short Hills, in May 1962 and they raised their three children at their Short Hills home, where she maintained two greenhouses—one of them solar, long before they became popular. With an unusually green thumb, she cultivated gardens of flowers, wildflowers and vegetables and was known for her creative arrangements, particularly of dried wildflowers she collected. She and a friend competed nationally with an outstanding cactus collection. In addition to winning many local, state and national awards, she also served as a judge in many flower shows.

Ms. Gordon and her husband loved to travel, going all over the world to visit gardens. For years, the couple traveled to Wimbledon for the tennis championships, followed by excursions to gardens all over England, often coming home to enlist the help of their two sons to redo their own landscaping and flower beds.

She relished a project of any sort and, as an ardent fan of the New York Philharmonic and The Metropolitan Opera, would often turn up the Saturday morning broadcast while bustling about the house. At this time of year, she’d be in the kitchen making pickled relish and homemade peanut brittle for holiday gifts, music blasting.

In addition to her affinity for gardening and the arts, she was also a natural and competitive athlete, an avid tennis and paddle tennis player, runner and, later, golfer. Her friends referred to her as “the Rocket” for her fierce forehand. She held longtime memberships to the Short Hills Club, the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, and the Bridgehampton Club.

Ms. Gordon was predeceased by her husband of 47 years, Jeremy Gordon, in 2009; and her daughter Jean Gordon Vicks of Clinton, New York. Her brother, J. Stuart Auchincloss, also predeceased her.

She is survived by two sons, John S. Gordon and wife Jennifer of Atlanta, and Jeremy L. Gordon and wife Edith of Switzerland. She is also survived by her son-in-law, Dwight E. Vicks of Clinton.

Eight grandchildren, who called her “Muzzie,” Sara, Dwight and Emily Vicks; Stuart, Lanier and Reese Gordon of Atlanta; and Stefan and Bill Gordon of Langenthal, Switzerland, survive her; as does her sister, Kathryn Porter and husband Jim of Maine; and Eva Auchincloss of San Francisco; and a host of loving nieces and nephews who called her “Aunt Sadie.”

Her ashes will be interred during a burial at Christ Church in Short Hills. Arrangements were under the direction of the August F. Schmidt Memorial Funeral Home in Elizabeth, New Jersey. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at 11 a.m. at Christ Church, 66 Highland Avenue, in Short Hills.

Memorial donations may be made to the International Thyroid Oncology Group, 5116 Commercial Drive, Yorkville, NY 13495, or the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Bamboo Brook, 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931 or njconservation.org.

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