Gordie made long-lasting impact on community

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Straughn Community is mourning the loss of a young man who brought joy and laughter to all those in his path.

Gordie Cartwright, the 17-year-old son of Rick and Christy Cartwright, lost his battle with CML, a form of leukemia, early Tuesday morning.

He was diagnosed in October of 2014. Last August, the Cartwrights found out Gordie needed a bone marrow transplant. His sister, Ginnee, was a match.

Doctors performed the procedure in Texas at the end of 2016.

Throughout his battle, Gordie has maintained his infectious smile and laugh.

The SHS student won the national cornbread championship in 2010, as a fourth grader. He became the first person in Alabama to bring home the national honor.

Gordie was in Jill Smith’s fourth grade class when he learned about the cornbread contest.

Smith said she found some files on her computer from the years recently.

“It had a picture of Gordie from the contest,” she said.

Smith said that Gordie shared his famous sweet potato cornbread with her class.

“That group of kids were so much fun and was so close,” he said. “He was so happy. It was a really cool thing. I noticed that the kids were still talking about it this week. He was so happy and proud of that recipe. It’s such a happy memory.”

In August 2015, the then-10th grader was overjoyed when he learned that Alabama Make-A-Wish foundation was making his dream of having his video game developed into a reality.

Obsidian Entertainment in Los Angeles decided to develop his game.

If Gordie and his family didn’t know beforehand how much the young man was loved, it was clear last Tuesday night as the community gathered at the high school to pray for him.

During Gordie’s tenure in high school, he and band director Will Parker had gotten close.

Parker recalled that Gordie was always smiling or telling a corny joke.

“He would tell me about a game I knew nothing about,” he said. “It all goes back to love.”

Gordie’s close friend, Ryan Mitchell spoke of memories with Gordie.

“I really don’t know where to begin,” he said. “There’s so many wonderful things I could say about Gordie. Even though we go to the same school, we really first met and became good friends through 4-H.”

Mitchell said he and Gordie traveled to 4-H camp where Gordie did magic tricks and made everyone laugh.

“We also enjoyed 4-H events and playing cards while we waited,” he said. “We also had fun during band. With Gordie around, there was never a dull moment. I just remember how he laughed and made everyone around him feel good. He was like a brother to me and I will miss him dearly.”

Gordie’s friend Jamie Lee Herring shared his memories as well.

“Gordie and I never really knew each other till one day in band,” he said. “I was in seventh grade and he was in eighth grade. He came up to me and said, ‘Hey, let me show you something,’ and me being the gullible idiot that I am said, ‘sure.’ He touched my chest and pressed and then I tripped over a chair and fell into the timpani. Gordie got a paddling and I kept apologizing afterward because I knew it wasn’t his fault that I tripped and fell, and he told me it was OK that the guy who paddled him didn’t hit very hard anyway and it went from there. We played video games, had very in-depth conversations, and at at subway together. The time and memories that we made are irreplaceable and I will cherish them forever. He always had a new corny joke every time we saw each other.”


Straughn High School Principal Donny Powell said that they brought in extra counselors on Tuesday morning.

“One thing that keeps coming up when I hear people talk about Gordie is how he liked to laugh,” he said. “He was always smiling and carrying on something with his friends. He was a terrific young man that will be missed dearly at Straughn High School.”

Funeral arrangements have not been set, but are being handled by Foreman’s Funeral Home.