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Gordon Neal Zipperer was 93 when he died peacefully December 24th, 2023.
Gordon was born the fourth of four children “November twenty-sixth NINETEEN THIRTY” to Louis and Marion Zipperer in Ashland, WI. Gordon never tired from expressing pride and gratitude for having lived on the farm in the Highlands area of Eileen Township, where he attended the one room schoolhouse and where, as recently as last summer, he was able to visit with childhood friends and classmates at a Veterans’ dedication ceremony.
Gordon met Betty Wooland at Ashland High School, where he always sat behind her in homeroom. Because they were always seated alphabetically, Gordon and Betty eventually joined in marriage on September 8th, 1952, a union that brought two children, Lynn and Mark. Gordon was a devoted husband and father; an excellent provider for his family.
After high school, Gordon worked 2 seasons helping to fire the steam engines of the ore boat Hobbs (his first job in the steel industry) as it sailed the Great Lakes and he ultimately obtained a degree in Metallurgical Engineering at Michigan Tech. After being drafted, Gordon served in the US Army, stationed from 1955-1957 with an artillery unit at Fort Sills OK, where he lived with Betty and his new daughter, Lynn. Upon discharge the family moved to Buffalo, NY where Gordon worked for Bethlehem Steel. Gordon’s career then led his family to Minneapolis, MN where Mark was born, then eventually Burnsville where, along with many neighbors, they helped to pioneer the great subdivision of Burnsville Heights on the edge of the Dakota County prairie before Burnsville even had a post office. Gordon worked as a metallurgist for Continental Machines in neighboring Savage, MN as a full-time employee and then as a consultant until the 1980’s. This time includes moving the family to Cambridge, Minnesota where Gordon and Betty bought/built a beverage company for distributing pop and beer to Isanti County stores, restaurants, bars and businesses. They had two full-time employees and provided summer work for many of the kids in the rural area between Cambridge and North Branch. Gordon continued to work as a metallurgical consultant for many foundries and machine shops between Minneapolis and Pine City, including Motek in Cambridge where he made many lifelong friends. After selling the beverage company, Gordon and Betty built and maintained a mini storage complex in southern Isanti county and built a new home on Bear Circle in Goldenwood, where they again found cherished friends among neighbors. Later, Gordon and Betty would become early residents of the East Terrace 55 and older co-op where he was the newspaper distributor for the complex and sat on the condo board for years.
Gordon and Betty enjoyed an extensive travel life. His first travels, besides riding his pony Playboy around Eileen Township, included a trip to Bear Lodge Butte (Devil’s Tower) with his boy scout troop in the early ‘40s. Later, Gordon and Betty joined neighbors for family camper vacations to New York, the American West, Yellowstone, California, Mexico and Canada. Frequent trips in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s to Las Vegas were punctuated by travels to China, Europe, Caribbean, Mexico, many countries in Central and South America, and Alaska. These trips often included traveling with or meeting up with friends from Burnsville and Cambridge.
Rarely able to sit still, Gordon also enjoyed Golfing, SCUBA diving, sailing on Lake Superior and Lake Pepin, large and small woodworking projects, lathe projects, boat building, bicycle, and motorcycle riding, refurbing beat-up old cars, fixing bicycles, and always looking for the next thing to do.
After Betty passed away in October 2012, Gordon dedicated much time to his daughter’s care, which included weekly drives to St. Paul until she passed in August 2020.
In 2021, Gordon moved to Madison, WI where he lived with his son and established another group of good friends. Despite the challenges of relocating so late in life, Gordon never lost his sense of humor or sense of adventure.
Gordon was preceded in death by his parents, Louis and Marion Zipperer, his wife Betty, daughter Lynn Zipperer, sister Grace, brother Louis Zipperer, and sister Betty Lou.
Gordon will forever be remembered for his selfless interest in the stories of other people, loyalty, kindness, generosity, inquisitiveness, and sense of humor by surviving son Mark Zipperer and his wife Heather Butler; Gordon’s sister-in-law Shirley Wooland, his devoted and special friend Janelle Evenson, nieces and nephews, and many friends from the Highlands of Ashland County, Wi to Burnsville and Cambridge, MN.
Visitation will be held on February 5, 2024 at 12:00 P.M. followed by a service at1:00 P.M at Carlson Lillemoen Funeral Home and Cremation Services