Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Erlinda Dancel Gordon

Erlinda Gordon, short-wave radio operator, dies at 64

LAND O'LAKES — She traveled from island to island in the wake of destruction. At times, she found herself at ground zero when disaster struck, offering hope to the helpless in the Philippines.

Typhoons, volcano eruptions, landslides, floods and boat sinkings. Erlinda Gordon dealt with them all.

For more than 12 years, Mrs. Gordon was a short-wave radio operator who coordinated relief during disasters. Following catastrophes, she would hop on a plane or ferry in search of a radio signal. Mrs. Gordon was well known around the islands, so pilots and boat captains welcomed her aboard.

Mrs. Gordon died Oct. 9 while under hospice care. She was 64.

One of Mrs. Gordon's missions came after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo on the island of Luzon. It was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the 20th century.

Mrs. Gordon lived near the volcano at the time and witnessed its eruption and the devastation that followed. Several hundred people died.

"She explained about the (ash) covering cars and roads, and then the mud slides that followed," said Phillip Gordon, her husband of nearly 15 years. "The destruction of all the villages around was absolutely incredible."

Despite making only about $100 per month, Mrs. Gordon worked long hours behind the radio. She was also a teacher and a tutor. Her knowledge of the country's many dialects made her highly respected around the islands.

"She was on the job for 24 hours a day for days and weeks (at a time) because these things went on and on," her husband said. "She got to be known famously for her accuracy."

Two of Mrs. Gordon's children and some of her grandchildren still live in the Philippines.

She often sent money or care packages with medicine, clothes and food to her family in the islands.

"She would rather starve herself than starve her family back in the Philippines," said her brother, Romeo Dancel of Virginia Beach, Va. Mrs. Gordon raised Dancel's two sons, along with her own four children, when he moved to the United States.

It took her 17 years to get a Visa, but Mrs. Gordon finally made it to the states in 1994. The next year, she met Phillip Gordon in Virginia Beach. He was a high school history teacher. She taught English to Filipino kids.

The couple made Land O'Lakes their home in 1996.

In February, Mrs. Gordon underwent the first of several operations to remove a cancerous spot on her liver. She went into a hospice care center earlier this month but died after her liver and kidneys failed.

Kevin Smetana can be reached at or (813) 661-2439.


Erlinda Dancel Gordon

Born: Sept. 28, 1945.

Died: Oct. 9, 2009.

Survivors: Husband, Phillip Gordon; sons, Jon Jon Rojas and Jason Gordon; daughters, Aileen Abay, Sheryl Rojas and Kathy Furman; brothers, Eduardo Dancel, Romeo Dancel and Arturo Dancel; and 18 grandchildren.

Erlinda Gordon, short-wave radio operator, dies at 64 10/16/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 16, 2009 8:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting


    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  2. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  3. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery


    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want


    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]