After serving the city of Laurinburg for 36 years as its attorney, J. Robert Gordon was ushered into “semi-retirement” during a special ceremony held during this week’s city council meeting.
Presented with a plaque honoring his service, Gordon was commended by Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker for his “tireless, dedicated efforts to provide a better quality of life” to the city’s residents.
“(Gordon’s) extensive involvement in the community made him the epitome of a public servant and a true gentleman,” Parker said.
Parker told the longtime public servant that “the city is proud of you, we’ll miss you, and we may call on you to get a little free advice.”
“I’m not much on free advice,” Gordon quickly replied, displaying the sharp wit and sense of humor that Parker said made him successful.
“I really accept (this honor) with great humility and great thanksgiving,” Gordon said. “It is more than I deserve and I am overwhelmed.”
While he has been city attorney since 1977, Gordon said that his service to the city started before that.
In the late 1960s, Gordon said that he was recruited by the city of Laurinburg to work as “special tax attorney” in an effort to collect a big and growing backlog of unpaid taxes that extended back to before the Great Depression.
“I took the job. I didn’t have much choice having started a new law practice in Laurinburg with very little clientele. We collected a lot of those back taxes, either through foreclosure or letting people come in and pay by the month, and it has been my pleasure to serve this now three time All America City since then.”
Recalling some of the lower lights of his career with the city, Gordon said that he always dreaded being called “every two years … to go through the city code and make changes.”
“Talk about a boring job, and it took two days,” Gordon recollected.
Gordon said that he was optimistic about the city’s future following his professional leave, saying that he recently recommended that a friend asking his advice move back to Laurinburg.
“I was a little hesitant at first, but I told him about (the Small Business Innovation Center), about FCC’s (expansion) plans, about the work that Jim Willis and (the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation) are doing downtown, about the nature of the people here … about championship football teams and things of that nature.
“He was surprised at my optimism and my high regard for Laurinburg, and I think he is going to move back here. I still feel that Laurinburg has a very bright future ahead of it, but only if we all work together to that end.”
Gordon also praised the work his late partner Charles L. Hicks did in his time serving the city. Gordon shared kind words about his successor with the city, as well.
“I understand that later tonight you will be naming my partner (William Floyd) as the person to take my place. I think you have made a sound decision, and I have very high esteem for Bill. I know he will serve with distinction.”
Floyd has served as assistant city attorney since 2007.
With his closing remarks, Gordon encouraged locals to work together to overcome high unemployment and high taxes and to lay racism and divisiveness aside.
“As I look forward to semi-retirement and spending time with (family, friends) and last but not least, my bird dogs … I will still be available at times — just not for free advice though.”