Gordon HjortaasMay 6, 1940 ~ October 4, 2017 (age 77)
Gordon Leroy Hjortaas, 77, died peacefully on October 4, 2017 in Naples, Florida surrounded by family. Gordie was born May 24, 1940 in Appleton, MN to Lester and Ruth Hjortaas.
Gordie was raised in Battle Creek, MI where he attended Battle Creek Central High School and was nominated as “Best Athlete” by his peers in his graduating class of 1958. A fitting nomination, as he excelled at swimming, track & field, baseball, basketball and football. In 1957, Gordie was one of two players selected to represent Michigan in the annual Hearst All-Star Baseball Game at New York’s Polo Grounds. Aside from baseball, he also starred as the school’s #1 quarterback, being described as “the main cog around which the Bearcats function,” and was a starting guard on the basketball team.
After graduation, Gordie matriculated at Michigan State University, majoring in Economics. He was recruited to play baseball and was voted as the “most valuable player” his freshman year. Gordie enjoyed tremendous success while playing ball, becoming the Spartans’ “Number 1 Catcher” by his senior year.
After MSU, Gordie served as a General Accounting Specialist in the Air National Guard from 1963 until 1969, when he began his career in building material sales and started his family. In what is regarded as his best decision ever, at least by his children, Gordie moved his family from Howell, MI to Naples, FL in 1980. In Naples, Gordie continued his career in building material sales until he retired in 2011. He was a long time member of Naples Christian Church and loved volunteering at the church in the kitchen or even mowing the lawn.
Gordie is survived by his wife, Shirley Bowersock-Hjortaas, his children, Erik (Suzanne Hawkins), Andrew (Amy Byington) and Brooke (Greg) Kopriva, his grandchildren, Isla Hjortaas, Gunnar Hjortaas, Gage Kopriva and Nash Kopriva, step-son, Kevin Bowersock, and first wife, Gayle Hjortaas. He was preceeded in death by his sister, Judith Burrill, and brother, Robert (Debbie) Hjortaas.
The celebration of Gordie’s life will take place on Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 2pm at Naples Christian Church, 8000 N. Goodlette-Frank Road. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Heart Association.