Obituary for Sloan Michael Gordon
A Tribute to a Life Well-Lived: Sloan Michael Gordon
August 19, 1973 – May 18, 2020
Sloan Michael Gordon signed off on a life lived to its very fullest on May 18, 2020.Though taken far too soon, Sloan managed to live 10 lives in the span of his 47 years, punctuated by adventure, mischief, and quality
time with his family and friends.
A natural charmer from the start, Sloan’s grandmother once affectionately lamented about a then-four-year-old Sloan,“I love all my grandchildren, but oh that Sloan!” In Sloan’s immediate family, he was known from the
beginning to have the gift of gab about anything and everything. Few things brought Sloan more joy than getting under the skin of his friends and family. Sloan started his lifelong passion of pushing people’s buttons early
on, cementing his reputation as a prankster by tormenting his younger brother Trent, who idolized him, and plucking hairs from the head of his older brother Baylor. One only needs to compare their hairlines later in life to know who got the last laugh on that one.
Sloan’s singular attention to humorously exploiting those around him was one of his most revered traits. If you knew Sloan, he assuredly gave you a hard time about something.And he most definitely got the reaction he
wanted, doubling over laughing, and if he got you really good – you might get a knee slap out of him.Those closest to Sloan understood that at the heart of it all, his endless ribbing and constant kidding were merely his
way of showering his love and affection. He kept us all honest and entertained.
Sloan showed early indications of the ingenuity and industriousness that would define his entrepreneurship later in life.When Sloan was in middle school, his parents, Bill and Maggie, began to notice an increased
pudginess in his face.When Sloan’s school locker was found brimming with wholesale boxes of candy bars and loads of cash, his underground candy hustle and sudden weight gain was exposed. Sloan always knew how
to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
The Gordons moved to Lake Tahoe in the summer of 1989, before Sloan’s junior year of high school.Whether he knew it at the time, Sloan found his home. He fell in with a crew of young hooligans of fine stock, a few of
whom would become lifelong friends. Naturally, no one was immune to Sloan’s antics.While off-roading in a friend’s Bronco, the truck flipped and terrifyingly rolled over and down an embankment.When the rig came to
a stop, Sloan’s friend Garth Alling found Sloan with his eyes rolled back and his tongue hanging out. Garth fearfully shook Sloan, yelling in panic.When Sloan burst into laughter, Garth could have killed his friend himself.
Sloan and Garth became best friends for life.
While home from college at Washington State University, Sloan was an icon at Basque Dinner, an annual gathering of close Tahoe families. Back slapping and shooting glasses of cheap wine with the family patriarchs,
Sloan solidified his role as a beloved member of the community. After trying on half a dozen different majors (confounding his parents), Sloan graduated with a degree in Wildlife Biology. He spent the next few years
tramping through the forests of the Pacific Northwest with Garth tracking, tagging and counting the endangered Spotted Owl. Sloan was well known for amusing friends with his hoots of a dozen different owl species.
Sloan married his college sweetheart, Gina Murdach, in the fall of 1996.They bought a rundown bungalow in an up and coming hipster neighborhood of Portland, OR, and Sloan threw himself into his first of many remodels. Fearlessly ripping up floors, tearing down walls, and haggling with discount appliance shops (some may recall his legendary story of the ‘Baghdad Shuffle’), Sloan got the experience that would later make him a successful entrepreneur. He loved exploring the city’s Indian,Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, craft breweries and bars, including a crunchy lesbian karaoke bar. In 2002, Sloan leveraged his field experience tracking owls to land a job with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), and Sloan and Gina moved to Zephyr Cove. Sloan never left.
In 2003, Sloan and Gina became proud parents to a son, Porter (16).
Creative, personable, and hardworking, Sloan built a reputation for himself and left the TRPA to manage the planning and permitting process for a local developer. Sloan was uniquely qualified to influence the design of
redevelopment projects around the lake that were both improvements to the aging community infrastructure and also aligned with the region’s environmental sustainability goals.When the market crashed in 2008,
Sloan found himself jobless.While trying to figure out his next move and contemplating tending bar, the calls started coming in asking for Sloan’s advice on this permit or that regulation. One evening Sloan stopped by his
parent’s house and said,“Mom, I think I’m in business for myself.” Sloan built a successful business from scratch, advising clients through the infinitely confusing real estate planning and permitting process in the
Lake Tahoe basin.That soon expanded to development projects and work on many of the marquee properties and projects around the lake.
In 2005, while wearing a mullet wig and hanging out at the bar at Harrah’s in Tahoe, Sloan met the love of his life, Nicole Buell. Nikki loved Sloan for all that he was – funny, loud, obnoxious, playful, intelligent and
unpredictable, yet kind and solid to his core. On their first trip to meet Nikki’s parents, they camped in Sloan’s Chevy Tahoe along the way and rolled up to the house with a squealing fanbelt. Nikki’s mother, Fran,was
immediately charmed by Sloan’s easy smile, however Nikki’s father Jim, a Navy man,was not impressed. It didn’t take long, however, for Jim to understand what Nikki saw in Sloan. In 2009, Nikki and Sloan got married in Solvang, California, and later welcomed their children Walter (9) and Jolie (6).
Sloan was never one to shy away from letting his lengthy (albeit well-researched) opinions be known on all matters big and small, existential and material. Cooking tri-tip? Better have a Big Green Egg on hand, possibly
two. Home renovations? Don’t be afraid to knock some walls down and install more lighting. Skiing? It’s all about the wax job. Sloan was known for moonlighting as a salesman, talking family members and friends
into purchasing big-ticket items they may not have known were needed; including (but not limited to) bikes, campers, luxury SUVs and home stereo equipment.A true expert on all categories of equipment used for fun
pursuits, Sloan’s opinion was sought before making major purchases, resulting in his reputation for being highly skilled in spending other people’s money.
Sloan’s spare time was often centered around getting after it in the great outdoors. He spent many years rock climbing with friends, his brothers and his beloved Nikki – his favorite climbs being Lover’s Leap in Tahoe and
Cathedral Peak and Fairview Dome in Yosemite. Sloan loved skiing at Heavenly in the winter with his family and friends.What he lacked in form he made up for with speed – The man liked to go fast! Weekdays,weekends,
powder days or spring slush, Sloan was a constant and beloved fixture at Heavenly’s East Peak Lodge, truly in his element holding court with his fellow Mug Club enthusiasts. One often wondered whether skiing was
merely a pretext for his real favorite winter pastime, having a few well-deserved (and sometimes not-so-well-deserved) beers with his best friends.
Music was a big part of Sloan’s life, and was always on at the Gordons. Sloan loved the Grateful Dead, and was known for walking house guests through a history of jazz while listening to his favorite albums on his
beloved home sound system. Live music was always on his radar, including his annual pilgrimage with Nikki and friends to the High Sierra Music Festival, or as Sloan liked to say,“the happiest place on earth.”
Sloan loved to travel. Hearing the tales of his adventures was almost better than going yourself, and often came with a line of glasses poured from cherished bottles pulled from deep in the cabinet. Some of his favorite
places were Scotland (Scotch) and Italy (Brunello and Barolo), but he also was enamored with the exotic cultures of Japan and India.
Of all the wonderful characteristics and passions that defined Sloan’s life, his absolute love for his family stands out above the rest. Sloan’s devotion to and adoration for Nikki was limitless.Anyone who spent time around
Sloan and Nikki bore witness to their special chemistry. Sloan’s children were equally the lights of his life.A natural and unrelenting teacher, Sloan’s children were well versed in starting campfires, skiing powder, shooting
bb guns, riding mountain bikes, rock climbing, pitching tents, or anything else useful for a mountain kid to know.
While his love for his children was immeasurable, he was no pushover. He vigilantly bargained, bribed, implored and used reverse psychology to encourage his children to take on new challenges, eat their dinner, and
become thoughtful members of their community. Most importantly, he led by example. Sloan instilled in them the old school values of grit,work ethic, and integrity, alongside a healthy dose humor and fun.While his
expectations were always high, catch Sloan in a sentimental mood and he would express how proud he was of the fine young men Porter and Walter had become. Jolie absolutely melted his heart and revealed a side of
Sloan few knew.
Sloan revered his parents, Maggie and Bill, and was vigilant in making sure they were happy, safe, and healthy (and had the latest and greatest BBQ, electric bike, camper, blender, phone, stereo, wifi router, the list is
endless). Sloan and his brothers Baylor and Trent had a very special bond. More than brothers, they were best friends. Sloan never missed the annual “Brothers Weekend,” which were always rowdy adventures, whether
they were at Trent’s fraternity parties in Santa Barbara, fishing trips in Montana and Mexico, or rock climbing expeditions in Yosemite.
Sloan was truly a one of a kind human being and will be profoundly missed, especially by Nikki, Porter,Walt and Jolie. He was soulful, kind, honest, strong-willed, loyal, intensely curious, intelligent, giving, and carried an unparalleled lust for life. Sloan truly demonstrated the integrity of his character through his actions. He was always the first to lend a hand – going the extra mile to help his friends and family with a smile on his face and a joke in his back pocket. Sloan was all nonsense and no nonsense at the same time.As a father, husband, son, brother, friend and member of the Tahoe community, Sloan represented the very best of us.
Sloan hated funerals. Ironically, he also hated being the center of attention. But put him at the head of the table and he would entertain for hours. He would want those who knew him to toast his life with a fine beverage,
good music, and a story. In respect to current community health concerns, a celebration of Sloan’s life will be held at a future date.A private family service to honor Sloan will take place on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Gordon Children College Fund, details below.
Mailed check payable to:
Gordon Children College Fund
US Bank – Stateline Office • PO Box 5700 • Stateline,NV 89449-9800
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