Van Arsdale, Gordon (1918-2013)

Van Arsdale, Gordon (1918-2013)

Date Updated



Division of Technology

Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU


Educational Background

Stanford University, 1951-55 73 units

Oregon State University, 1947 MS

San José State University, 1941 BA

Teaching Experience

San José State University, 1946-1986

Westwood High School, 1941-1942

Administrative and Professional Experience

Epsilon Pi Tau-Life, Laureate; Phi Delta Kappa-Life

Scout Master for Boy Scouts

California Industrial Education Association - Life

American Council on Industrial Arts Teacher Education

Selected Publications

Instructional Materials for many classes.

Personal Commentary

I am a fourth-generation Californian, born in the Sacramento Valley, and raised on the family's farms. After completing studies in local schools, I decided on a career in teaching industrial arts. Since my counselors recommended SJSC as the best college for that purpose, I enrolled and took room and board in the Scheller House at 5th and San Carlos (now a historic building on campus), which was an excellent choice for a small town boy. I liked my classes, my boarding house mates, and my landlord and lady.

After graduation, I took a teaching job at Westwood High School in Northern California because it was in a lumber mill town near Mt. Lassen, a great location for my favorite outdoor activities. The principal and most of the teachers were young, friendly, and recently credentialed. We educated students from the mill town, but many others were bused in from the surrounding small villages, lumber camps, and Indian settlements. Teachers and students joined in local fishing, hunting (the opening day of deer season was a school holiday), skiing, and ice skating on the lake near the school.

World War II was well underway, and I had received notices from the draft board, so I enlisted in the US Navy 90-day officers training program, which started at the University of Notre Dame. Then it was on to the University of Northwestern for my commissioning. My close friends and I decided to join the US Navy Mine Disposal group, which meant considerably more training in rendering safe both enemy mines and US mines, diving, underwater cutting and welding, gunnery practice, and mine sweeping/demolition.

My first overseas assignment was to join a group to set up an advanced navy base in New Guinea, where I was assigned to an Australian officer and travelled with him among the native tribes, gathering information on American MIA's and searching for an unexploded Japanese torpedo. When the unit was later moved to Manila, we greeted General MacArthur, and then removed mines from the harbor and bombs from the San Miguel Brewery, which the Japanese had taken over. We liberated a lot of beer for the GI's that day!

After the Japanese surrender, I was discharged and returned to California to marry a home economics teacher with whom I had taught at Westwood High School. I was offered a job at SJSC by my former department chair, Heber Sotzin, in 1946, and, with help from my former professors of 1937-1941and from President Thomas MacQuarrie, made a start as a college teacher, an occupation that lasted until 1986, when I retired.

Over those 40 years we became very good friends with other faculty families, built a home, and raised four children, two of whom are credentialed teachers. My wife and I celebrated our 65th wedding anniversary in 2010, and since our children all live in California, we get together with them as often as we can here in San Jose, at our Capitola house, at their homes, or on trips. Our association with SJSU has been uniquely rewarding, and it can only continue to be so in the years ahead.

Date Completed: 10/96; revised 06/11

Adapted from: Biographies of Retired Faculty San Jose State University 1997: A Project of the Emeritus Faculty Association of San Jose State University. San Jose, CA: The University, 1997.


Van Arsdale, Gordon (1918-2013)