Gordon K. Stephens
Gordon K. Stephens of Bradenton, Florida and Manitowoc, Wisconsin passed away on Monday, January 27, 2020. At age 87, colon cancer and its ensuing complications took him from his beloved wife of 66 years, B. Joan Stephens (Wilson). His life ended with yet another great story: A Caribbean cruise, Mexican hospital, air ambulance, and a valiant struggle at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton. At the moment he passed, he was surrounded by his devoted wife, four sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and numerous grandchildren.
Gordon's love of Michigan's Upper Peninsula was epic. Torn from the U.P. as a young teen due to the economic pressures of WWII, he was educated at the Henry Ford Trade School in Detroit as a tool and die maker. His passion for the U.P. and love of its people drove many of life's decisions. Hunting, fishing, and exploring the north-woods obsessed him, and in 1979, at age 47, he left a stable career to start a plastic injection molding company. On a handshake with the mayor, the site in Ironwood, Michigan was chosen. The business thrived and a second division in Two Rivers, Wisconsin was founded in 1987. Through the family's hard work and the company's dedicated workforce, the business eventually employed over 200 employees. Gordon retired in 1999, his sons took over, and the company was sold to CTB, a division of Berkshire-Hathaway in 2010.
Even more than his love of the Northwoods, Gordon's love of his family was his guiding light. He raised four sons, Mark, Gregg, Rob, and Scott. He found even more love through his daughters-in-law, Denise, Deena, Joanna, and Vonia. Gordon and Joan's grandchildren, (Rachel, Evan, William, Natalie, Harrison, Amanda, Kyle, Ewelina, Martin, Michelle, Spenser and Stuart) gave him inexpressible joy. He experienced each stage of their growth and was enormously proud of their achievements and who they have become. If he had one regret, it would be not being able to experience the same with his five great grandchildren (and those yet to come!). His extended family was just as close to his heart - he is survived by his brother, Elvin, a sister-in-law, Jackie, as well as his many nieces and nephews that will dearly miss their Uncle Gordon.
Living every minute of his life to its fullest, Gordon taught us what is possible. His formal education consisted of "just" a high school diploma. He embraced lifelong learning. He was extremely well read and loved history and travel. In his fifties, he became a private pilot and eventually earned his IFR qualification. At age 61, he rode his bicycle coast-to-coast in 43 days from California to Georgia. He attempted the northern route a few years later but went over the handlebars in Coeur d'Alene Idaho in a rainstorm and broke his collarbone. Armed with his golf clubs he flew his Cessna 182, N91705, from Sarasota to King Salmon, Alaska and later to Canada's Prince Edward Island. Later, he quested to break 100 in golf, but the camaraderie of the course was most important.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Vincent and Amanda, his sister Dorothy, and his brother Richard.
A memorial service is planned for 3:00 PM on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at the Brown & Sons Funeral Home in Bradenton, Florida. Immediately thereafter the family with host a get together at the Perico Bay Clubhouse. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Cancer Association, Shriners Hospitals for Children
, St Jude's or the Alzheimer's Foundation.
Published by Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter from Jan. 29 to Jan. 30, 2020.