Gordon Wickersham wore many hats, though shirts were optional, especially when he was mowing the lawn, joked his son while paying tribute to his father, the jeweler, the fitness buff, the beloved church choir member, Rotarian and "Planet of the Apes" extra. Wickersham, a popular Bakersfield bon vivant, died Dec. 1 at the age of 80, following a year of declining health.
"He liked to perform, having the spotlight on him and hamming it up," said his son, Greg Wickersham. "He would draw attention to himself and do something funny."
Wickersham was a fine jeweler who spent decades fitting loyal customers with quality gems. The lifelong Bakersfield resident joined the family business, following his father, Walter, and his grandfather Charles to Wickersham Jewelers, which opened in 1901.
Wickersham became president of the business in 1975 following his father's death, but after a rift with extended family members also running the business, Wickersham left and worked at Houston Jewelers for a few years before opening his own Gordon Wickersham Jewelers in the '80s. He continued working, most recently in an office space downtown, until retiring a couple years before his death.
"He liked being able to supply people with fine jewelry," Greg Wickersham said of his father. "He was really an expert at appraising value. I think people trusted him and his judgment. He was good at building relationships with customers (so that) they would come back again and again."