A Remembrance: Gordon Clanton (1942-2021)

Leading political writer and activist Gordon Clanton was born in 1942, grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and died July 13, 2021 in the Del Mar he loved. He came to Del Mar in 1974, teaching sociology at SDSU (1975-2008) with a specialty in human emotions. Gordon loved politics, especially Del Mar politics. He followed it closely and wrote about it prolifically, publishing hundreds of opinion pieces as a columnist for the Blade-Citizen, the North County Times, and, since 2009, the Del Mar Times and sister papers in Solana Beach, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, and Carmel Valley. He covered local city council elections, but also school Boards, judgeships, and other more obscure races to inform voters about these often overlooked but important contests.


Gordon’s politics were progressive, oriented to the environment, justice, and equality. He was committed to community and political engagement as essential to a working democracy and good government. He served on Del Mar Community Connections’ board and was active in the Del Mar Historical Society and the Rancho Santa Fe Democratic Club, serving as its VP for programming. A committed “green,” he often chided the “grays” and occasionally tangled over the years with their leaders, like Tom Pearson.


Gordon and I go back to the 1970s as friends, Community Plan supporters, and advocates. Gordon was complex: thoughtful, well informed, generous, kind, tough, opinionated, determined, sometimes intractable, and always a force to be reckoned with. Gordon did his homework; his outspoken opinions and columns were not easily dismissed. He did everything with integrity and without apology. His life and legacy inspire us as the right way to be a citizen of our democracy. I will miss him.

Gordon Clanton and Christie Turner. June 10, 2021. Photo courtesy Rose Ann Sharp.