Where We Stand
The East Hampton Star, April 8, 2010
Edward Gorman, a resident of East Hampton and longtime participant in community affairs, who had been a business executive in New York and San Francisco, died at the age of 92 on Saturday at Stony Brook University Medical Center. A veteran, he served in the army before and after World War Two.
A member of the East Hampton Democratic Committee, Mr. Gorman also was president of the East Hampton Conservators, a political action committee. Even though he was a pilot, he was concerned about the negative effects of the East Hampton Airport and became chairman of the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion. He recently was appointed to East Hampton Town’s aircraft noise abatement committee.
Mr. Gorman first came to East Hampton from New York City in 1949 as a weekender drawn by the opportunity to body-surf in the ocean. He rented a room in a cottage at the corner of Fithian and Egypt Lanes in East Hampton Village, which he bought the following year. He eventually owned several houses here, including one on Mill Hill Lane in the village, dating to 1683. He and his wife, Clorinda, were year-round residents of Georgica Estates after having lived on Dunemere Lane in the village for many years.
Mr. Gorman’s activism here began in the early 1980s when he chaired an ad hoc citizens planning committee organized to fight the elimination of the East Hampton Town Planning Department. He remained engaged in environmental and civic affairs, becoming chairman of the Group for the South Fork, a founder of the Village Preservation Society, and a founding director of the Northwest Alliance.
He also was on the board of the East Hampton Historical Society, a member of the Army Military History Institute and the Oxford Alumni Association of New York, and a tutor with the Literacy Volunteers of America. The East End Veterans group was founded around his dining room table. He frequently wrote letters to the editor of The East Hampton Star.
In his professional life, Mr. Gorman was a marketing vice president of the Thom McAn Shoe Co. in New York for many years. In 1966, he joined J.C. Penney as a marketing assistant to the president, and 10 years later became chairman and chief executive officer of Joseph Magnin, a San Francisco-based chain of fashion stores.
Born in Baltimore, Mr. Gorman graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1935. Restless for excitement and travel, he left a stockroom job at a Montgomery Ward warehouse to enlist in the Army. He was proud to have achieved the rank of corporal at Fort Shafter in Hawaii at a time when funding and promotion opportunities in the service were few.
In 1937, upon his return to a Baltimore still in the throes of the Depression, he lucked into a job as an investigator, for $95 a month.
He earned his pilot’s license in 1940, and, immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, re-enlisted, becoming a sergeant in the Army Air Corps. As a special agent in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps, he was assigned to its Honolulu office, living as a civilian in a cottage on Waikiki Beach. He worked primarily on cases involving Japanese aliens, and called the post “too idyllic to be true.”
In 1944, Mr. Gorman requested a transfer to a combat unit and was assigned to the Seventh Infantry Division. He was awarded a Bronze Star and received a battlefield commission for his role in the recapture of the Philippines from the Japanese. His unit also participated in the invasion of Okinawa on Easter Sunday, 1945, landing amid rough seas and kamikaze action. He received another Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Of his military awards, he was most proud of his Combat Infantry Badge and Battlefield Commission.
Mr. Gorman placed a high value on education, and for 30 years took night classes at the New School in Manhattan. Although he squeezed classes in around professional responsibilities, he had always hoped for “the luxury of an academic experience with nothing to think about except learning.” The words are his own, from an autobiography he wrote in 2003. He became a member of the New School’s Council of Fellows, vice chairman of the New School Associates, and headed its first fund-raising drive. At the suggestion of the New School president, he also turned his knowledge of marketing into a course of study.
In 1986, he was accepted by Oxford University, and he and his wife moved to Great Britain and into campus quarters. He received a master’s degree in history from Oxford when he was 70. In his autobiography, “An American Education,” he called his time at Oxford “the best year of my life.”
Mr. Gorman is survived by his wife of 39 years, as well as by Cameron Crounse of Schuyler, Va., a stepson from a previous marriage. His only child, Anne, from that marriage, died at 24. He also is survived by his brother’s three children, whom he helped to raise and considered his own sons. They are Andrew Gorman of Bethesda, Md., David Gorman of Maplewood, N.J., and Eric Gorman of Wayne, Pa.
Mr. Gorman was cremated and his ashes will be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Punchbowl, Honolulu. A memorial service will take place at a date to be announced.