Gordon Tully

In Loving Memory 1935-2021

Gordon Frederick Tully died at the UVA Hospital in Charlottesville, VA on March 8, 2021, with his wife, Ellen, and children, E.D. (Ellen Douglas) and David, by his side.

Gordon was an architect by profession, but a polymath by avocation. He was a talented artist and musician, an amateur ornithologist and astronomer, someone fascinated by science and mathematics, and an aficionado of word and number play, reveling in puns and spoonerisms (much to the delight and sometimes dismay of his family). He enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others and had a wonderful sense of humor and imagination. Amongst family and friends, he was especially known for producing witty poems on special occasions and beautiful and clever hand-painted valentines, as well as leading Christmas Carols on the piano.

Gordon was born in Omaha, Nebraska on September 15, 1935, the third and youngest child of Fred Ellsworth Tully and Mary Jane Dygert Tully, moving with his family to California when he was 10. He earned a degree in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley in 1959, studying under Charles Eames, Buckminster Fuller, and William Wurster.

Following a six month stint in the army, Gordon permanently relocated to the east coast. He began his career in New York City working for Percival Goodman, where he met Michael McKinnell and Gary Kallmann. Having pitched in on their submission to the Boston City Hall competition, Gordon moved to Boston after they won the competition to work on the project. Following its completion, he worked at Sert Jackson and Associates before co-founding MassDesign (later Tully and Ingersoll) with several colleagues and school mates.

Gordon initially focused on solar heating and was soon a recognized voice in the industry, producing several books on solar design. He also served on a National Research Council panel to study storage for solar-generated electricity and was a founder of the New England Solar Energy Association. After solar energy lost favor in the 80s, he turned toward domestic architecture, building on his belief in the importance of human scale and sustainability, seeking to build houses that fit his clients comfortably.

Gordon had a talent for sharing his professional knowledge and taught graphics at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design Executive Education program for many years. He also wrote a column for The Journal of Light Construction: “Building with Style”, from 1985-96.

He later continued his work in sustainability in Norwalk, CT in 1996, working with Steven Winter and Associates, and Veridian, Inc, (later Vidaris) consulting on energy efficient building practices.

Gordon met his wife, Ellen, in Cambridge, MA, in 1964, when she moved into the apartment above his at the corner of Bow and Arrow Streets. They were married in 1966 and eventually settled in West Cambridge. Despite having a wildly different upbringing, Gordon quickly embraced Ellen’s close family, deep roots in Virginia and Cape Cod, and the constant companionship of at least one dog, becoming a beloved member of the extended family (and Dog-Petter-in-Chief).

They spent many summers with their two children on the Cape, in Woods Hole, where he relished visiting with friends and family, learning from the local scientific community, and, using his knowledge of physics, quickly acquiring the art of small boat sailing. Architecturally, he contributed to the Woods Hole community through the design of several buildings, notably his brother-in-law’s house (his first commission), and the renovation of both the Woods Hole Library and Sea Education Association’s Madden Center.

Gordon and Ellen relocated to Norwalk, CT in 1997, where they embraced the community at St. Paul’s Church. Gordon joined the Fairfield County Chorale, finding great joy singing with the large and musically excellent ensemble, fortifying the tenor section for 20 years. He became active in guiding local development, serving as a commissioner on the Norwalk Zoning Board of Appeals for 5 years and as Advisory Board Chairman of the Connectivity Study of the City of Norwalk.

He and Ellen moved to Charlottesville, VA in 2017 to be near their daughter and three grandchildren.

Gordon is survived by his wife of 54 years Ellen Douglas Bruce Fisher Tully, daughter Ellen Douglas (E.D.) Bruce Tully and son-in-law Frank Rambo, son David Robert Tully, sister Jeannette Tully, three Rambo grandchildren: James McIver, Ellen Douglas Bruce (Nell) and Josephine Crane (Jojo), and 9 nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents Fred and Mary Tully, his brother Robert Tully, and his nephew Terry Andersen.

You can see a collection of Gordon’s writing and artwork at www.architully.com.

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