Gordon Keith Blenderman was born on September 19, 1930 to Gordon Earl and Doris Walmer Blenderman. He passed away Tuesday, April 6, 2021. He grew up in Sioux City and graduated from Central High School in 1948, where he excelled in athletics and speech. Gordon then attended Iowa Teachers College (University of Northern Iowa) and was a member of the football team and varsity wrestling squad. The 1950 wrestling team was undefeated in duel meets and were the NCAA National Champions. He was inducted into the UNI Wrestling Hall of Fame and was always particularly proud of that accomplishment and of the photograph at UNI that recognizes that group of young men. Gordon was honored and inducted into four Hall of Fames, earning him the nickname “Quadhoffer.”
After college graduation, he served in the Korean War. He has compiled a group of short stories that tell about his experiences in Korea and has titled it “The Accidental Soldier.” He never wanted ordinary stories to be forgotten and was a great writer of everyday experiences. His handwriting was terrible and being able to decipher it made the reader feel quite accomplished.
In 1954, upon his return from Korea, he was hired to teach and coach in Monroe, Iowa. It was there that he met his wife Shirley Ann Grimmius of Grundy Center, Iowa. They were married June 5, 1955. They had three children, Marcy, Craig, and Amy. They were married 65 years before Shirley’s death on September 1, 2020.
Both teachers, their careers took them from Monroe to Applington to Council Bluffs. He earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, traveling for several summers with 2 small children in the back seat of their Ford Falcon and living in the quonset hut provided by the University. After receiving his Master’s, he and Shirley returned to Des Moines and moved to Aurora Avenue, the place that they would call the “rabbit hole” for 60 years. Gordon was hired to teach Economics and Government and to coach wrestling at Lincoln High school in Des Moines. He remained there from 1960 – 1995. During that time he also ran the time clock at all home football games and thought it pretty nifty that his tenure included 2 different centuries; the 20th and 21st. He retired from keeping the time clock well into the 2000s.
Gordon published a book of clean limericks “The Raccoon River Anthology.” Having it located in the Library of Congress with a publication number, was a source of pride for him. Coach would meet up with former wrestlers for coffee and conversation and he took great joy in their companionship. He loved a good story which was often made bigger with time, had a big personality, and an even bigger heart. He loved a cake donut and a hot cup of coffee, cornbread and hominy. He loved music and playing harmonica, pancake Fridays and wood carving; making a new Santa every year. He traced his family genealogy back to the 1600s, was the ultimate caretaker of his wife during her final months, did the dishes every night after supper and never failed to tell you, “I’m glad you’re here,” “You are important,” and “I love you.” He was a gentleman and his word was golden. He will be greatly missed.
Waiting for him in his new location, are his wife Shirley, his parents, his brother Spencer and his beloved grandfather and mentor, John Walmer, among others. He is survived by his children, Marcy Davidson (Brian), Craig Blenderman (Ann), Amy Cherry (Walter); grandchildren, Natalie Davidson, Rexford Davidson (Elise) and Blake Davidson (Mackenzie Morrison) all of Johnston, IA, Taylor Wilson (Casey) of Wheaton, IL, Morgan Roadman (Jeff) of Chicago, IL, Jenna Cherry (Jake Johnson) of Asheville, NC and Britt Cherry of Minneapolis, MN. He was also blessed with four great grandchildren; Charlie, Remi, Grier and Wyatt. Another great grandson, Jack, will be here in June.
To all of those that were a part of Gordon’s life, you are important to us and we are glad you are here. Make good choices.
Memorials should be mailed to the family at 6169 Brandywine Drive Johnston, IA 50131. They will then be directed to Lincoln High School Boosters for the wrestling team.
Saturday, April 24, 2021
Inurnment with Military Honors
Rose Hill Cemetery
Grundy Center, Iowa
Hamilton's Funeral Home
605 Lyon Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309