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Gordon D Gifford

Gordon D Gifford

Gordon D. “Gordy” Gifford, age 82, of Rochester, MN, formerly of Durand, WI, after a lifetime of farming, flying, and driving, left for his next journey on the night of April 23, 2022, in the midst of a thunderstorm bringing warm rain for good spring growing.

Gordy was born March 18, 1940, to Lena (Helmueller) and David Gifford. He entered the world with a joy for life, hard work, and valuing relationships with family and friends. When learning of his brain tumor, he applied this same approach and worked hard to recover from surgery so he could enjoy “Biner’s” cooking, a Windsor Coke, and peanuts at cocktail hour, and sharing stories with family and friends.

Gordy graduated from Durand High School in 1958. He worked with his father grinding feed with Gifford Feed Service and with his mother running Gifford’s Store in Maxville, WI, selling gas and groceries as well as tagging deer during hunting season. He learned a love for farming from the Louie and Irene Brion family, who loved him like a son.

In the fall of 1958, Gordy met Lavina Fedie at a dance at the Arkansaw Rec Hall – the start of a 62-year romance. They were married on September 12, 1959, and lived a happy, sometimes tragic, but always loving life together. Gordy and Lavina raised their children on Maxville prairie and Chippewa View Heights. With his wife by his side, Gordy lived a full life, and together they gave of their time and resources in service and support to their children, church, and community.

Gordy’s entrepreneurial spirit allowed him to envision what was possible, and his “can-do” spirit led to him starting and running many innovative businesses along Highway 25, including multiple farming operations, Gifford Aviation, and Durand Egg. Gifford Enterprises employed many people, and sometimes whole families, within the Durand community for many years.

The tragic loss of their son Steve in 1987 and financial losses suffered during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s led to a need for a fresh start. After moving to Wabasha and then Rochester, Minnesota to be closer to their daughters, Gordy’s broken but resilient spirit led to a period of growth that was difficult to see at the time, but in hindsight he realized the many new people and experiences he was blessed to have. He consulted to egg producers, managed a high-rise apartment complex in Minneapolis, and purchased, prepped, and sold non-operating flour mills to become mixed-use businesses.

In 2016, he entered the limousine business, working with his daughter Gina as she grew her luxury transportation business in the Twin Cities and Rochester. Meeting new people while chauffeuring them to their destinations gave Gordy a new spark. His personality and punctuality earned him high praises from all clients and passengers. He met and befriended people from all over the world and all walks of life. A recent and very meaningful driving assignment he had was transporting organ transplant teams for the Mayo Clinic and their “precious cargo” to and from the airport. He was honored to be a vital link in the chain of giving someone a new chance at life and honoring those whose loss made the gift possible.

Gordy loved his life. He was sad to leave us, but he was so looking forward to seeing his son again after 35 years apart.

Gordy’s memory lives on through his wife Lavina, and his daughters and their families: Liz and Jack and their sons Peter and Thomas; Maria and her son Karl, and his dad Tim; and Gina, her friend Chris, and her stepdaughters Mariah and Carissa, and Mariah’s son, Jayden; his sister Mary Ellen and her sons Jeff, David, and John; and his brother Charlie and his daughters Alissa and Gia, and many extended family and friends. 

As Gordy takes this next journey, his family loves the thought of him once again meeting up with those who have gone before him, especially his son Steve, his mother Lena and father David, mother-in-law and father-in-law Annabelle and Henry; his uncle Fr. Lawrence Helmueller, his son-in-law Jay Brennan, and countless other family members and friends he loved.

Gordy’s family is so grateful for Dr. Jane Njeru, Dr. Terry Burns, and Dr. Elizabeth Yan; Katrina Shindelar, OT, Mike Walsh, PT, and the Mayo Clinic Hospice team, especially Sara Larson, RN; and Helen Kingsbury, MSW.

A mass to celebrate his life will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 30, 2022, at St. Mary’s Assumption in Durand with Rev. Timothy Reither officiating. Burial will be in the church cemetery next to his son, Steve. Visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday, April 29, 2022, at Rhiel Funeral Home in Durand and one hour prior to services at the church on Saturday.

Important research is being done to figure out how to better tackle these brain tumors. Gordy believed in supporting this research and contributed important cellular information to a current study at the Mayo Clinic. Donations to help this cause are encouraged and would be appreciated. Please support the Glioblastoma Foundation at glioblastomafoundation.org.

Rhiel Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Durand, is serving the family.


  1. Dick and Doshie Grey

    Our sympathy to Lavina, Liz, Gina and Families May you find peace in your hearts and many happy memories.

  2. Fred ohlrogge

    I have good memories of Gordon. Blessed be his memories. God grant you peace and comfort in your mourning. God bless— fred ohlrogge. Qasi

  3. Jane Adler-Corning

    Liz and family,
    So sorry to hear of your dad’s passing. I always enjoyed him. My favorite story of him was when we were at a grad party or some event and my son was sitting by him and he told people, I’m Gordo and this is Jordo! He really enjoyed people! Cherish those memories.

  4. Gerald Rippley

    I am very sorry to hear Gordy passed away. We had a lot of fun when we were young.

  5. David Jon Dorchester

    With all our Prayers and Love to the Giffords and friends. We will see you this evening in memory of a Wonderful man
    (My Uncle Gord).

  6. Jim & Beckie Boigenzahn

    So sorry to hear about Gordy. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

  7. Mary Lynn (Van Dyke) Wiskerchen

    I’m so sorry to hear this news & send condolences to all the family. I have fond memories of Gordy from high school days-his energy & contagious laugh among them.


    Lavina and Family,
    So sorry for your loss.

    Dave and Kris Polzer

  9. Maria Meade

    After reading and learning with great enjoyment about Gordy's interesting life, all I can say is it's unlikely Gordy will ever settle for resting in peace..
    Here's hoping God has offered him some angelic entrepreneurial opportunities to keep him busy.
    My condolences to all of the Gifford Clan!

  10. Thom Rutherford

    Family Sorry to hear of Gordys passing!! Our families go back a long time. One Favorite memory is of the annual Beef Slough Deer hunting GANG. Thanksgiving meeting at the big clearing to tell stories led by Dave G., HO R., Gordy, Charlie, and Louie B.
    Gordy was a great friend and will be remembered and MISSED by ALL. Thom Rutherford and the Rutherford family.

  11. Pete Sample

    I’m sure gonna miss him! He was a good friend! My condolences to his family and friends.

  12. Sue Sommers Colombo

    Lavina and family
    So sorry to learn of Gordon’s passing. I have fond memories of him from our high school years.

  13. Dennis & Willy Traun *

    So sorry to hear of the loss of Gordon. Our deepest sympathy to all of you.

  14. Murph and Renee

    We met Gordy through the car service. Gordy made everyone around him feel good and was a great story teller . Our entire family loved and enjoyed Gordy and those airport runs won’t be nearly as enjoyable but I bet he will be there in spirit ! We will think of Gordy often and know he will be adding light in his next journey ! RIP my friend!

  15. Vicci Hutter Rosenberg

    So sorry to hear about the loss of Gordy. Fine man. God bless his family

  16. Rick Loyd

    Gordy was an interesting and engaging man. Not cut from common cloth. The world has lost a true character. Susan and I send our condolences.

  17. Lawrence & Patricia Lightfield

    Lavina , Liz, Gina , Maria ; deeply saddened and share in your loss. We have good memories of both Gordie & Steve and are reminded so often as we drive through Maxville Prairie taking our daughter to & from Winona State. They both had that innate ability to make you smile and laugh. Such a gift!

  18. Bob & Dorothy Dorchester. Clara Dorchester Fumusa.

    We are so sorry to hear about Gordy. Our thoughts and prayers to everyone.

  19. Jim & Barb Henry

    Our sincere condolences go out to the entire family. May your many fond memories help ease your pain in the days to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  20. Noelle Knoblauch

    Our entire family sends our condolences, and we wish you comfort during this difficult time.

  21. Terri Morris

    Although we have never met, we have recently learned what a great man you were through someone we love very much, Brandi McDonald. May the Lord bring comfort that only He can bring to your family in the coming days. In His Service, Bud and Terri Morris

  22. Laura Hickey

    So very sorry to hear of Gordy's passing

  23. Dave Rankin

    Condolences from Kansas to the whole extended Gifford family! Working the beads for you all

  24. Polzer Denise and Rick

    So sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers are with you ????????????????????????

  25. Tonja Binkowski

    So sorry for your loss.


    My condolences to the family.

  27. Kelli Hurlburt

    Thoughts and prayers to the family.....Sooooo many memories from Maxville, going to the feed store for my rabbit feed and catfood....fly-ins at the airport, working the chicken coops, as well as a few mowing jobs - great boss :) .......Gordy always had a smile on his face and cracked a good joke.

  28. Becky Petfalski

    I am so sad about Uncle Gordy. He was a great man, father and uncle. He was a father to me when my dad passed away. He will forever be in my thoughts and heart.

  29. Jeffrey Dorchester

    You were our Patriarch.
    "Long Live the King!"

  30. Patricia Petrie / Kurth

    My condolences go out to Lavina and family. Gordy and Lavina were some of the very 1st friends that Skip and I met when moving to Durand. We shared many fun times with them over the years. My heart goes out to all of them.

  31. Dedra Kirchner

    So sorry to learn of Gordy's passing. My condolences to the family.

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