Gordon Eugene Renschler, a child of God, was born at home in Alfred, North Dakota, to Martin and Anna Renschler on December 27, 1933. He was the third child of five and the oldest boy. Alfred, N. D. was a town of about 100 people, and life was simple in Alfred. Activities included attending church, going to classes in the two-room school of grades one through eight, and being raised by the whole town. He was a cute little boy with a shock of black hair, twinkling brown eyes, and an impish grin. He was called Little Gottfried because of the resemblance to his maternal grandfather.
When he finished the eighth grade, he joined his two sisters in attending high school in Jamestown, where they boarded with families in the city. In his sophomore year, the whole family, including the entire large house in which they lived in Alfred, moved into Jamestown, a city about 30 miles away. He excelled academically and participated in various extracurricular activities, graduating in 1951.
He then enrolled at Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho, and in his freshman year, two weeks before his 18th birthday, his father died. His education was put on hold at the end of that year while he helped his mother run the family business, the James River Oil Company, for a short time. After the business was stabilized, he returned to college at North Dakota State University and graduated with a degree in civil engineering.
EARLY PROFESSIONAL YEARS
One of his first assignments was in Korea, where he headed a study to determine the feasibility of building a dam on the Han River. When he first moved to Korea, he thought his housing had sewage problems. When he mentioned this to his colleagues, they laughed heartily and suggested he tell his cook to stop cooking kimchi (pickled and fermented vegetables commonly using cabbage.) While there, he joined his first country club to play golf – The Country club of Seoul, Korea. He lived in Korea for thirteen months on this project, and he left for home by heading west through Asia and Europe, making frequent stops along the way.
BUILDING A CAREER
At the encouragement of his friend Jim Kelly, he moved to Madison, where he worked for a short time at Building Systems. In the 1960s, he and Jim Kelly, along with two others, purchased the Kenneth F. Sullivan Construction Company and Gordon became the president. In 1976 he started The Renschler Company, a design/build commercial construction company. They became known for quality work, sensitivity to client needs, fair pricing, and timely performance. Through the years, they won numerous national awards for building design. Buildings you would recognize built by The Renschler Company include the New Glarus Brewery, The Pleasant Company/American Girl offices and warehouses, Conney Safety Products, Sub Zero Education and other buildings, Brennan's Markets, Delaney's restaurant, Strand Associates, and many more. He cared for his employees, they cared for him, and many of them remained with the company until they retired. His joy was not only his work but the lasting relationships he built through the years.
In addition to buildings, he always wanted to design a bridge, and Ted Richards at Strand gave him that opportunity. It's the bridge on which he's standing that's on the cover and inside of your program for the memorial service today.
His leadership abilities were recognized as he was on the American Building Company National Builder Advisory Board and was the organizer and first president of the Wisconsin Metal Building Dealers Assn.
AND THEN THERE WAS JANET
At age 38 in September of 1971, Gordon was a bachelor, and his family wasn't sure if he was ever going to marry. Mutual friends, M. Jaye and Lauren Mortenson thought they had a potential match in Janet Cvikota, an independent, intelligent and bubbly professional working at the UW. They introduced them, and after a rather lackluster first date (ask Janet about the wig she wore), Gordon decided he really should give her another chance. The rest is history, and they married in 1972 on a lot that they bought in Applewood Hill. Serendipitously, that lot was sold to them by the Mortenson's when the one they wanted was already sold. They were married on a beautiful day in late July by Gordon's brother, Pastor Don Renschler with about 50 people attending. Mortenson's bought them a tree as a wedding gift which they planted during their ceremony, but much to their dismay, the tree was inadvertently taken down by a landscaper doing work at their neighbor's home. Janet and Gordon never built a house on this lot as they bought a lovely home on Waban Hill in Nakoma and made it their own.
In 1977 while building for Chuck Prestigiacomo, they discovered that Janet and Gordon and Rosie and Chuck shared the same wedding date. It became an annual celebration for the two couples to mark the evening with a special dinner.
Janet and Gordon had a treasured relationship built on a love of each other, God, and a mutual interest in the community, relationships, sports, and food!
GOLF AND CALIFORNIA
Starting in 1972, a golf foursome of Gordon, John Suby, Jim Dolister, and Dick Newman began making regular golf trips, first to Puerto Rico and eventually to the beautiful Palm Desert community of Ironwood Country Club. Over the years, they had many fun outings and other friends, and eventually, the wives would join in on the fun. In 1992 Gordon and Janet purchased a home in Ironwood, and other Madison friends would follow their lead. This was another opportunity to build a circle of lasting friendships. They wintered there for twenty-four years until their return to Madison full time to permanently live in the Tamarack community on Madison's west side.
Gordon loved to golf, and throughout the years, he traveled worldwide to play golf with friends, as well as make new friends. He was a member of Nakoma Golf Club, Ironwood Country Club in Palm Desert, and Blackhawk Country Club. He also served on the Board of Directors of Nakoma Golf Club, and The Renschler Company completed a major renovation project for the Club. It was Gordon's long-time friendship with Jim Dolister that led to his leadership and financial support of Capitol Bank, serving as an organizer and founding Board member of Capitol Bank.
SPORTS AND BRIDGE
When not on the golf course, Gordon enjoyed playing bridge and watching sports. He played with the MSOL men's bridge group, Tamarack bridge group, and also at the Madison Bridge Center, as well as with groups at Ironwood. The Renschler's were enthusiastic sports fans, especially Badger football and basketball – attending games in person for many years and hosting fun tailgate parties. In 1976 Gordon had the thrill of directing the UW Band in "Varsity" at Homecoming vs. Iowa. He bid $30 at Telebid for that opportunity. In 1985 he and Janet flew to Augusta, GA, to attend the Master's Golf Tournament all four days, staying nearby the course in a private home and watched Bernhard Langer win the green jacket.
Gordon and Janet were involved and supportive of the community. Gordon served on the Edgewood College Board of Trustees during Jim Ebben's tenure. Following that, he remained in an advisory role on the Board of Visitors during Presidents Carey and Flanagan tenures. He was also a Board member of The Salvation Army, Madison Symphony Orchestra, and the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Madison, the Christmas Babies, and Blackhawk Country Club ROMEO'S (Retired Old Men Eating Out).
Since its inception, Gordon and Janet had a reserved table at Concerts on the Square with friends. It was a treasured tradition to attend the annual six concerts and enjoy music at the Capitol on beautiful summer evenings.
GORDON AND GOD
As you've already picked up on through this glimpse into Gordon's life, God has been a guiding light. Jesus Christ was his Lord and Savior; he believed His promises, trusted Him and lived his life to honor Him. He lived his faith and did it effortlessly. Gordon shared his faith through worship and many bible study groups, including the Ironwood Men's Bible Study and Hoffner's Tuesday Stonecroft bible study.
He touched so many lives in so many ways, and that touch will be missed but not forgotten. His impact will continue to be felt. Gordon was a joy to be with; he made you feel good about yourself, encouraging, actually listening to you, interested in you. He set an example, smiling with his dark brown eyes, finding humor and precisely the right words to illustrate the situation: "I'm not a myth, I'm a mythter," he one time replied to an introduction. He set an example, didn't judge, gave you a chance, didn't need your applause; he earned your respect. Thoughtful, slow to speak, you could always count on him to do what he said he would. He included you and made you feel comfortable. He said "Thank You" often and to Janet, "I just want to make you happy" – and he did. He was not a big imposing man—until you knew him, then his size grew significantly. He was truly loved and admired by those who knew him.
Gordon is survived by Janet, his wife of 48 years; his sister, Lois (Norm) Herringshaw, of Nampa ID; brothers Les (Pat), of Plymouth, MN, and Don (Linda), of Nampa ID; brother-in-law, Ken Cvikota, Onalaska, WI, many nieces and nephews, and countless friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, Mary Ann Haig, of West Lafayette, IN., and a sister-in-law, Shirley Cvikota, Onalaska, WI.
OUR LIVES ARE CHANGED NOW, NOT ONLY BECAUSE HE'S LEFT US BUT ALSO BECAUSE HE TOUCHED US IN SO MANY WAYS.
A memorial service will be held at BLACKHAWK CHURCH, 9620 Brader Way, Middleton, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, at 2:00 pm. A visitation will be held at the church on Thursday from 1:00 pm until the time of the service. Masks will be required, and social distancing and other COVID protocols will be observed.
For those unable to attend the service will be live-streamed at; www.blackhawkchurch.org/stream
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts are suggested to: Northwest Nazarene University/Renschler Family Scholarship Fund, 623 University Blvd., Nampa, ID 83686; Fellowship of Christian Athletes-Southern Wisconsin, 222 Wisconsin Dr., Suite D, Jefferson, WI 53549 or Agrace Hospice, 5395 E. Cheryl Pkwy, Fitchburg, WI 53711.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Services
3610 Speedway Road
Agrace HospiceCare, Inc.
5395 East Cheryl Parkway, Fitchburg WI 53711
Northwest Nazarene University-Renschler Family Scholarship Fund
623 S. University Blvd., Nampa ID 83686
Fellowship of Christian Athletes-Southern Wisconsin
222 Wisconsin Drive., Suite D, Jefferson WI 53549