Obituary Notice: Tribal Member, Gordon Bettles

In Loving Memory,

Gordon Wayne Bettles
qaW’ s?os?att’is  “Hard-Working Man”
August 25, 1950   –  February 16, 2020

Family and friends are mourning the loss of Gordon Bettles, devoted husband, father, grandfather – and friend to the myriads of people whose paths crossed his throughout his lifetime. He was just as blessed to have these people in his life as they were to have him in theirs. Gordon was raised at the family home on Agency Lake. He attended Chiloquin schools from first grade through high school and graduated from Chiloquin High School in 1968. From there, he attended Southern Oregon College for one year and then transferred to Eastern Oregon College, where he graduated in 1972. In September of 1972 he married Flora Stanley at Williamson River Methodist Indian Mission. Gordon and Flora went on to have four children – James, Jeanette, Jason, and Jolene, as well as baby Janine, who died in infancy.

Gordon’s life was full of love and passion – for his family, his Tribe, his music, and for the welfare of the youth in his community. He spent several years working as a Community Liaison in Chiloquin, where he developed numerous activity programs for the youth population to aid in reducing rates of juvenile delinquency in the area. This was a successful program for which Gordon was awarded the Paul S. Wright award from the State of Oregon. He went on from that position to work for the Klamath Tribes, first as Culture and Heritage Specialist, and then as Director of the Culture and Heritage Department. During those years, Gordon worked hard to develop and implement the Klamath Language Recovery project and enjoyed the times he was able to spend with Tribal elders as they taught the Klamath language to people of all ages in the Tribal community. Gordon was also deeply dedicated to the preservation and protection of Cultural sites, and repatriation of Tribal remains.

In 2001, Gordon enrolled at the University of Oregon to study linguistics, anthropology, and international studies. In 2003 he graduated with his Masters degree in those three areas and was hired as Steward of the Native American Longhouse on the U. of O. campus. One of Gordon’s legacies is that he supervised the transition from the existing Longhouse, which was an old World War ll Army barracks in sad need of repair, to the construction of the beautiful new Many Nations Longhouse on that same campus site with the involvement and support of all of the Tribes in Oregon. Gordon remained Steward of that Longhouse until his retirement and was a friend and counselor to many students during those years.

Gordon received several awards and recognitions for his efforts in trying to make this world a better place for all of us to live in. Among them are the following:

Weaving New Beginnings award (University of Oregon)

Martin Luther King, Jr., award, (University of Oregon, 2006)

Martin Luther King, Jr., award, (University of Oregon, 2014)

David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award – 35th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference

Perhaps one of the most lasting memories Gordon’s friends and family will keep of him will be the memory and appreciation of his love of music. He was an accomplished musician on clarinet, guitar, and piano. For a number of years he played keyboard for Savage Resurrection, the Native American rock band which also included Gordon’s brothers, Terry and Mike, as well as Arnie Gallagher and Allen Nelson. Gordon’s musical talent produced a number of neo-classical piano compositions, including “Fly, Eagle, Fly” and “Klamath Water Lily Woman”. He wrote and performed too many songs to list, including music for the guitar, and a musical “I don’t think the spring will come.”

Gordon is survived by his wife, Flora, and their four children – James, Jeanette,Jason, and Jolene; seven grand children, brothers Robert and Terry, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Priscilla and Joseph Bettles; brothers Amory, Cecil, Quinten, and Mike; and sister Jody Ann.

Memorial services had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will be announced at a later date.

Obituary provided to the Tribal News Dept. by his daughter Jeanette.