Elmira Minita Gordon

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Elmira Minita Gordon

1st Governor-General of Belize
In office
21 September 1981 – 17 November 1993
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterGeorge Cadle Price
Manuel Esquivel
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byColville Young
Personal details
Born(1930-12-30)30 December 1930
Belize City, British Honduras
Died1 January 2021(2021-01-01) (aged 90)
Inglewood, California, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Nottingham
University of Birmingham
University of Calgary
University of Toronto

Dame Elmira Minita Gordon GCMG GCVO JP (30 December 1930 – 1 January 2021) was a Belizean educator, psychologist and politician; she served as the first governor general of Belize from its independence in 1981 until 1993. She was the first Belizean to receive a doctorate in psychology. She is one of the few "double dames", having received damehoods in two separate orders: the Order of St Michael and St George and the Royal Victorian Order.


Elmira Minita Gordon was born 30 December 1930 in Belize City, British Honduras.[1] Her parents, Frederick Gordon and May Dakers,[2] had immigrated from Jamaica to Lucky Strike, Belize in the 1920s.[3] Gordon had five siblings: Lincoln Coyi, Dorinda Henderson, Kelorah Franklin, Rolston Coyi, and Robert Reyes.[2] She grew up in Belize City, attending St. John's Girls' School and St. Mary's Primary. Gordon was a member of the Girl Guides from 1946.[4] Years later, in 1970 Gordon became the District Commissioner of the Girl Guides for the Belize district.[5]

Gordon continued her education at St. George's Teacher's College.[4] She also took a correspondence course from the College of Preceptors, Oxford, England.

After graduation, she began teaching at an Anglican school. She also served as a missionary throughout Belize between 1946 and 1958. From 1959 to 1969, she was a lecturer at the Belize Teacher's Training College.[5] From 1969 to 1981, she served as a Government Education Officer.[1]

Gordon completed her postgraduate education at the University of Nottingham and University of Birmingham in England and the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.[4] Between 1977 and 1980, when Gordon was in Canada, she served on the Educational Psychology Programme Planning Committee and was a member of the Toronto Leather Craft Club. She earned her master's degree in educational psychology and then a doctorate in applied psychology from the University of Toronto, Canada, becoming the first trained Belizean psychologist.[5]

She returned from her studies in 1980.[4] In 1981 Gordon was appointed as Governor General of Belize.[6] She succeeded James P. I. Hennessy, the last Governor of Belize. She became the first Governor-General of Belize upon Belize gaining independence that year.[7]

Gordon became a justice of the peace in 1974[4] and a senior Justice of the Peace in 1987.[1] Gordon received a lifetime membership of the British Red Cross in 1975,[4] and in the Belizean Red Cross in 1981.[3] In addition to her public works, Gordon was a master leather crafts artisan, having won numerous prizes for her works.[1]

Gordon stepped down as Governor-General in 1993, and was succeeded by Colville Young.[8] In later years, poor health prompted her to move to the United States in 2016 to live with her sister, Kelorah Franklin.[2] She died on 1 January 2021, in Inglewood, California.[9]



  1. ^ a b c d Sleeman 2001, p. 210.
  2. ^ a b c "Dr. Dame Minita Gordon passes". Amandala Newspaper. 6 January 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b Alvarez, Vejea (4 January 2021). "Belize's First Woman Governor General Passes Away". LOVE FM (Belize). Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Belize's First Governor General is Trailblazer of the Week". The Guardian. Belize City, Belize. 4 September 2014. Archived from the original on 3 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Belizean Biographies – Dame Elmira Minita Gordon". Belize National Library Service and Information System (BNLSIS). Belize City, Belize: Belize National Library Service. Archived from the original on 3 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Women Governors-General 1945–2005". Terra España. 2001. Archived from the original on 29 August 2005. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  7. ^ Lentz 2014, p. 84.
  8. ^ "Belize's First Governor General Passes". Great Belize Television. 4 January 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  9. ^ "Dame Elmira Minita Gordon, trailblazing educator and first Governor-General, dead at 90". Breaking Belize News. 2 January 2021. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  10. ^ "UVic honorary degrees, 1961- - University of Victoria". www.uvic.ca. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Honours and Awards" (49665). London, England: The London Gazette. 6 March 1984. p. 3253. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  12. ^ "Honours and Awards" (50333). London, UK: The London Gazette. 29 November 1985. p. 16780. Retrieved 3 September 2015.


Political offices
New office Governor-General of Belize
Succeeded by
Colville Young