Sol Gordon
(1923 - 2008)

Sol Gordon

June 12, 1923

December 2, 2008

In Honor of Sol Gordon, Ph.D.

- A short obituary, by Marlene Appley
- A narrative resume of Sol's career
- A list of Sol's books and awards

Dr. Sol Gordon, 85, of Chapel Hill, Professor Emeritus of Syracuse University, with a distinguished career as a clinical psychologist, educator, and recipient of many scholarly awards, as well as author of thirty books, died on Tuesday, December 2, 2008.

He was invited to lecture in every state over the course of his distinguished career, and presented internationally in Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, England, Israel, Germany and Thailand.

Sol was born in Brooklyn, NY on June 12, 1923. He served in the US Army Air Forces from 1942 to 1946. Under the GI Bill of Rights he completed a Bachelors Degree and a Masters Degree from the University of Illinois in 1948.

Feeling a need to help establish a home for the victims of World War II, he left for Israel in 1949 and participated in establishing Kibbutz Sasa.

In 1953 he completed a Ph.D. degree in Psychology at the University Of London, England.

During the civil rights years, Sol and his wife Judith founded several Headstart Schools in the South.

Sol was predeceased by his wife of 37 years, Judith (Sulzberger) Gordon, in 1991. She coauthored several of his books. He is survived by a son, Joshua P. Gordon of Los Angeles, California, a sister Mrs. Ethel Schnipper of Florida and his partner, Dr. Marlene Bondy Appley of Chapel Hill. Sol and Marlene both grew up in Brooklyn and shared their interest in Israel where they both were active in building Kibbutz Sasa. In the nine years that they spent together in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, they were both contributing to the community by lecturing and teaching.

Memorials are being planned in many organizations and locations throughout the country. Any questions should be addressed to Marlene Bondy Appley at 9 Charrington Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27517

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sol Gordon

. . . received his B.A. and M.S. from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of London (1953). He served as chief psychologist at the Philadelphia Child Guidance and the Middlesex County Mental Health Clinics. Dr. Gordon taught at Yeshiva University (1965-69) and then at Syracuse University where he was Professor of Child and Family Studies and Founding Director of the Institute for Family Research and Education (1970-1985) and Chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy (1970-1976).

Gordon has written over one hundred articles for professional publications and authored 30 books, including a controversial series of comic books on sex education written for teens who resisted reading. A widely respected figure in sex education, he started the popular undergraduate course in human sexuality at Syracuse University, attracting up to 400 students a semester. The course grew into the Summer Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality.

With a distinguished career as a clinical psychologist and sex educator, Dr. Gordon is the recipient of many scholarly awards. Upon his retirement from Syracuse University, Dr. Gordon was a fellow of the APA, and a member of the National Council of Family Relations and American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. He has lectured in every state in the United States as well as internationally in Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, England, Israel, Germany, Thailand and other countries.

Recent Books

Another Chance for Love: Finding a Partner Later in Life (Adams Media Corporation) 2004

A Friend in Need: Helping a friend when times are tough (Prometheus Books) 2000

Falling In Love Again (Bob Adams) 2000

Raising a Child Responsibly in a Sexually Permissive World, with Judith Gordon (Fireside) Paperback, Revised 2000 (Bob Adams)

How Can I Tell if I’m Really In Love? (Bob Adams) 1997

When Living Hurts (Union of American Hebrew Congregations) Paperback, 1997

Why Love is Not Enough (Bob Adams) Paperback, Revised 1990

Psychology for You (Sadlier) 1983
Life is Uncertain . . . Eat Desert First, with H. Brecher (Delacorte) 1990

The Teenage Survival Book (N.Y. Times/Random House) Revised 1989

Personal Issues in Human Sexuality with C. Snyder (Allyn and Bacon) 1989

Seduction Lines Heard Round the World (Prometheus Books) 1987

One Miracle at a Time, Dickman and Gordon (Simon and Schuster) 1986

Parenting: A Guide for Young People, with Mina Wollin (Oxford/Sadlier) Revised 1985

Living Fully: A Guide for Young People with a Handicap (John Day) 1975

Childrens Books

Did the Sun Shine Before You Were Born? With Judith Gordon (for ages 3-6)

Girls are Girls and Boys are Boys – So What’s the Difference? (for ages 6-9)

A Better Safe than Sorry Book, with Judith Gordon (for ages 5-9)

All Families are Different (for Ages 8-12)
Facts about Sex for Today’s Youth (for ages 9-14)
(All Published by Prometheus Books)


How Can I Tell if I’m Really In Love? (Paramount Pictures Corp.)

Strong Kids, Safe Kids (Paramount Pictures Corp.)
Sex: A Topic for Conversation, Parent Sex Education Videos (3) (Mondell Productions)

Selected Awards

Public Service Award given by The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (2005)

The Pennsylvania Coalition to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (2004)

Spirit of Service Award from the National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting and Prevention (2003)

For Making a World of Difference in Sexuality Education, A Lifetime Achievement Award given by Advocates, Planned Parenthood, AASECT, and
SIECUS (2002)

Sol is most proud of:

His comic books, 10 Heavy Facts about Sex. He explained they attracted a lot of attention because it was banned (considered pornographic). They appeared in newspapers all over the country; sold over a million copies at Syracuse. (See letter by Peter Scales in the "letters" section of this website!)

Creating the idea of "Are you an askable parent?" He explained parents need to respond to any question. Ignorance is harmful, knowledge is never harmful.

Founding the idea of October being National Family Sexuality Education Month.

Sol strongly advocated for:

Parents to educate their children.

Teenagers to be well informed. (He commented, for example, that teens need to know that oral sex is sex!)

Focusing on at-risk youth.

Guest Book Wall (What is this?)

Hover your mouse over the wall images to see each guest book entry.

Guest Book (37 entries)
This guest book has many loving tributes to Sol. There are also some folks pretty angry at him. The entries occur from most recent first to earliest last. Reading through gives a fuller picture of a complex, brilliant, wonderful and sometimes contradictory character.
Garth Gilchrist (Memorial Website Administ)
February 11th, 2016
Sol was introduced to me by a mutual friend at a drop-in Teen Center in 1972 when I was 18 and in high school. We talked about my interest in the field of psychology. He invited me to one of his educational presentations at a local college, where he showed a graphic homoerotic film, and then to his Institute for Family Research and Education on Ostrom Ave. on the S.U. campus, where we talked at length. Sol offered to mentor me through to a PhD in Clinical Psychology if I would assist in the daily functioning of EdU Press, his publication entity housed in the Institute, next to his office. He knew that my parents did not support this vein of study.

After working at EdU Press for a year and a half, I stayed late one night to pack comics into boxes for an urgent mail-out. He invited me into his office and pulled the curtains shut on his glass-paneled doors, asking me if I wanted to take part in a "research study" that entailed being hypnotized. That is all that he explained of the study, and he urged me to simply trust him. I was immediately suspicious, but did not want to jeopardize all that I had invested, right at that moment, so I played out his intentions and pretended to be hypnotized.

Sol put his hands on my legs, and slowly moved them towards my crotch, while suggesting that we take a bath together. At that, I got up and fled the office.

He never contacted me. My emotional world was destabilized, making the next 2 years of college very difficult. I dropped out for a year, but returned and pursued my goals in clinical psychology.

In 1977, while waiting with my date for a movie to come on at Goldstein Auditorium on the S.U. campus, I told this story. Not knowing that my voice had carried, a young man behind me came forward and told us that Gordon had done the same thing to him. Unfortunately, I did not get his name.

Jesse Samuels
Jesse Samuels (Former Mentee)
February 9th, 2016
Too soon my friend
Justin Cheagle (Lover)
June 6th, 2015
Sol enjoyed life, and he enjoyed life with other young men. He did what he wanted and in that he never hurt anyone. Granted he had a wife and still played with very young men. It takes courage to do what he did but I don't judge him.
Patricio Trujillo (friend)
February 24th, 2015
A very special friend...that was his best, to be a very special friend. Beyond that Sol was a teacher to me and above all a special and kind person. I made him lough and he was greatful for that. He put things in a very simple and honest way and I was very greatful for it.
I let him down, I disappointed him but I thought there is enough time to resolve it. But there was not. Maybe this was his last lesson he gave me.
I never had a chance to say goodbye
I miss him
No full stop
Michael Sessler (Friend)
January 27th, 2015
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"Sol was a very friendly teacher and a very dear friend from whom I learnt a lot. I will reserve the memories - TAK Vur AL"
Michael Sessler
January 28th, 2015
"Sol was a childhood neighbor of my father. When I met Sol as an adult he spoke kind words about my father. He made me feel proud."
Edith Jaffe
August 10th, 2014
"Sol spoke to my husband's Singles Living class at Grant H.S. in Van Nuys about masturbation. They are still talking about it. Joe thought so much of Sol and his achievements. Joe passed in May of 2008 and I like to think they are kibbitzing even now"
Fran Feinstein
September 17th, 2013
"Sol taught me something that I have never forgotten. "If you are fighting the good fight and you need a statistic, make one up. That's what they are always doing on the other side!""
Malcolm Smith
May 17th, 2010
"Sol lit up a room. He energy, his enthusiasm, his charism lives on."
Jane Gilgun
January 19th, 2010
"Sol and I met 1967, had a 40 yr association. Sol served until his death as a key board member of which, following a 1994 trip to Vietnam which Sol instigated, has worked on a major new method of permanent female contraception QS."
Donald Collins
December 24th, 2009
"Sol was a light that shone erased the darness of ignorance and prejudice that surrounds the subject of sexuality."
Dave Hingsburger
February 15th, 2009
"Sol was such a special person who touched all the lives around him. He always had a way to make those with whom he interacted feel that they, not himself, was the important person. I have lost a friend, colleague and mentor and miss him dearly."
Jay Yanoff
December 24th, 2008
"Sol was a very dear friend and colleague of my Father, Larry Hopp (who passed away in 2001). Sol was a brilliant, unpretentious, caring person. It was an honor to have known him and his wife, Judy. Memories of both of them will stay with me always."
Susan Hopp
December 23rd, 2008
"Sol was a pioneer, a mentor, a sexuality educator, a youth advocate before that concept was common, and an amazing, beautiful, dynamic, fascinating, passionate soul. We are blessed to have known him. I will never forget him and what he taught me."
Mary Jo Podgurski
December 18th, 2008


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