An Interview with Gordon Nary

Updated: Mar 19

Interviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism

This interview concerns the editor and publisher of Catholic profiles. He is a man of integrity, goodness and a willingness to create a magazine for all. He works tirelessly at this job and publishes it bi-monthly. He provides both national and international news.

Dr. Knight: Where did you attend university? How has this helped you to publish Profiles in Catholicism?

Gordon: I did my undergraduate work at Loyola University in Chicago. During the Korean War, Loyola was an accepting students in high school that could pass the entrance exam. So I joined Loyola when I was a student at Marmion Military Academy in Aurora, Il. I did my post-graduate work at DePaul.

Ironically, my first writing experience was at Marmion where I wrote a gossip column of who was dating who, etc.

Dr. Knight: What was your first job?

Gordon: I was a Shamus at a Jewish Funeral Home. I lived in a room next to the embalming parlor. The word Shamus domes from Yiddish shames/shammes (sexton, a caretaker at a synagogue), from Hebrew shamash (servant). The spelling of the word has altered from the influence of the Celtic name Seamus (equivalent to James) as many police officers in the US at the time, especially in New York, were Irish.

Dr. Knight: What was your initial profession?

Gordon: I worked in the insurance industry designing new forms of coverage. I created an accidental death benefit for Catholic students who were killed returning from a church service in which Mass was said daily for one year. A boy in Ames Iowa was killed by a train coming home after serving Mass on Thanksgiving. which was the first time that Masses were provided as a death benefit.

Then I developed some of the first sports disability insurance policies.

Dr. Knight: When did you decide to be an artist?

Gordon: I was working an 80 hour week for years and decided to choose another profession, I went to Switzerland to study with an artist friend of mine. One of my clients has posted one of my pictures on line

Dr. Knight: When and why did you become involved in the AIDS pandemic?

Gordon: A friend of mine who was Vice-President of the AMA suggested that I try to do something to help address the AIDS epidemic. I founded the Physicians Association for AIDS Care in 1987 as the first organization to support physicians as they struggled to care for people who, given limited treatment options, were quickly dying of AIDS-related complications. PAAC delivered education to US physicians about nutrition, pain management, opportunistic infections, and other complications of HIV disease. It also tackled contentious public policy issues. The US Centers for Disease Control ultimately resolved the dispute by issuing less restrictive guidelines that incorporated much of PAAC’s input. At its peak, PAAC represented almost 500 US physicians.

I then started The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care We took on controversial advocacy positions. 50 Ready To Risk Own Lives To Test AIDS Vaccine by Sue Ellen Christian Chicago Tribune We also published a monthly journal..

I also launched a weekly TV program that was carried by some PBS stations, Here is an interview that we did with a woman a day before she died that has received more  than 269,000 hits

Dr. Knight: When and why did you start publishing Profiles in Catholicism?

Gordon: In 1999, We only have two commandments - to love God and our neighbor as ourselves – both of which most of us fail. I was hoping to help people learn who our neighbors are and some information about their lives and the issues that are of interest to them.

Dr. Knight: What is your favorite book? Movie?

Gordon: My favorite book is a series titled The Alexandria Quartet by Larry Durrell who was a friend. PBS did a series on The Durrell’ in Corfu, I also love A Disarming Spirit.

My favorite film is Citizen Kane.

Dr. Knight: What is your favorite music recording?

Gordon: Chet Baker’s You Don’t Know What Love is. Chet and I met at the old Blue Note in Chicago and became close friends until, his tragic death

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