August 17, 1944 - March 3, 2021
Father, husband, son, brother, teacher, and friend—Dr. Theodore J. Gourley, Jr., Mt. Holly, NJ, was all this and more. Ted passed away on March 3, 2021, after a sustained illness. He was 76. His was a life well-lived, devoted always to others, from the children in his special education classroom to any lost soul who needed solace. His heart was kind and his sense of humor sharp. He loved to ski, teaching his three children the sport. And he was just as smooth on the dance floor. The oldest of seven children, Ted was born in Patterson, NJ., to Josephine and Lt. Col. Theodore J. Gourley. He was an air force “brat,” but embraced the adventure of family move across the country and internationally, as part of his father’s military career, living in Newfoundland, Canada; Massachusetts, Alabama, Hawaii, and the Azores. The Boy Scouts provided Ted with a friendly and consistent sense of belonging no matter where he lived as a child. Scouting inspired his life-long love of nature and camping and especially a respect for Native American cultures. His study of various American indigenous tribes included the art of costuming. Ted made by hand headdresses, totems, and jewelry, paying close attention to authenticity. Additionally, he participated in customary rituals that included traditional fire hoop and snake dances. He attended many Eastern American Indian pow-wows. And yes, there were a few times when his breach cloth costume embarrassed his younger brothers and sisters—but they were entertained and impressed as well. He graduated high school from Rancocas Valley Regional High School and then continued his education, earning a degree in history from Wilkes University (Wilkes-Barre, PA), a Master Degree in Education from Trenton State University, and his doctorate from Temple University. His first teaching position was in special education in the New Egypt School District. He also held administration positions in the Mt. Laurel School District and Burlington County Vocational School. For many years, he worked as a Director of Gift and Talented Education for the New Jersey Department of Education. Ted was an educational entrepreneur. He truly believed that all children have special talents and gifts, and if given the right opportunity, can excel. This conviction resulted in numerous innovative educational programs that he co-created and successfully administered: Olympics of the Mind, Convocations, Marsville, The Very Special Arts Festival, Mini-Model Congress, Model Congress, National Engineering Design Challenge, Planet X, ROGATE (Resources Offered for Gifted & Talented Children, and Young Astronauts. As an associate director at EIRC, he was the solo developed of the Institute for Creative Education (ICE) and Cognetics, which was recognized by the U.S. Patent Office as one of the US’s top ten programs in teaching innovation skills. His vast accomplishments in education were both nationally and internationally recognized. The Regan administration selected Ted’s grant to create the Young Astronauts program as a tribute to the Challenger tragedy. This then brought him to his first visit in the White House. In celebration of the Challenger Center, Ted was again invited to the White House by Barbara Bush and his program Marsville was celebrated by the Bush administration. Ted’s third, final, and favorite jaunt at the White House was during the Clinton administration when former President Clinton acknowledged Ted’s program, Model Congress. This notoriety catapulted Ted’s programs internationally, with adaptations in Russia, New Zealand, and Australia. After retirement from EIRC, Dr. Gourley took a position at Rowan University in the educational leadership department. He also acted as a consultant for educational grant programs and the afterschool program ENCORE serving under represented youth in New Jersey. Ted won many awards and notoriety throughout his life in education including” Educational Policy Fellowship Program of the Institute for Educational Leadership (www.iel.org), President of the NJ Association for Gifted Children and the Who’s Who of American Men in Education Award. He appeared on the television series Creativity with Bill Moyers. Theodore was also a prolific writer authoring educational curriculum to accompany his vast educational programs. In his years of retirement he authored Earth Park, a curriculum focusing on environmental issues and explorations. He also wrote a fictional young adult trilogy series: Journey to Gone, Square Root of Tomorrow, and Escape from Yesterday. An early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease ended his writing career. For one so devoted to education and creative thinking, this particular disease was difficult for him—and those who loved him—to accept. Ted married his high school sweetheart, Tina Tomaino of Mount Holly. A tragic car accident took her life, leaving him a single father with a three-year daughter. He found new love with Marlene Fisher, an education associate who also worked for the New Jersey Department of Education. Life goes on. He and Marlene married and gave birth to twin boys and were married for 41 years. His wife Marlene preceded Ted in death by one week, succumbing to a long illness. His children and his extended family are devasted by this double loss, especially during this dark winter of Covid when it was difficult for family members to be with them in their final hours. Ted is survived by his three children, Katrina Colleen Gourley, Theodore Joseph Gourley, III, and Jonathan Samuel Gourley; granddaughter Isabel Grace Gourley; and siblings Janice Shaffer, Dennis Gourley, Susan Damon, Paula Taylor, John Gourley and Kevin Gourley. He was beloved “Uncle Ted” to his many nieces and nephews. He was dad too to Chauncey, the latest in a happy family of dogs that romped through his life. A memorial will be held for Theodore J. Gourley, Jr and his wife, Marlene F. Gourley, at a future date when it is officially safe to gather. Both were cremated and will be buried under a newly planted tree where they will grow in life together again. Contributions can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org).
Father, husband, son, brother, teacher, and friend—Dr. Theodore J. Gourley, Jr., Mt. Holly, NJ, was all this and more. Ted passed away on March 3, 2021, after a sustained illness. He was 76. His was a life well-lived, devoted always to... View Obituary & Service Information
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