A good man was called to New Life on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.
When Gordon Englert married his forever love, Nancy Tibbels, in 1970, his employer at Equitable Life in Denver told her that she was getting a good man. And so he was.
Gordon was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1934. He was the fifth of six children born to Martha and Norbert Englert. He graduated from Cathedral High School and attended the University of Nebraska on a football scholarship. He played quarterback for the Huskers and was especially pleased to have been able to play in the 1955 Orange Bowl.
Gordon graduated with a B.S. in business in 1957. After spending two years in the army as a cryptologist in Bussac, France, he worked as a drug rep for Lederle before moving to Denver, where he took a job selling group insurance for Equitable Life. In 1979, Gordon and Nancy, with their children Steven and Molly, moved to Billings, where he worked primarily as risk manager for Yellowstone County.
Early in 1982, after contacting Family Services, SVDP, Montana Rescue Mission and Salvation Army about the need for a food bank, a letter was sent to 80 area churches inviting them to join in the collection of canned and dry food on the first Sunday of every month. The first Food Bank Sunday was in April 1982, with four churches participating. There were 30 by January 1983. Gordon took charge of the sorting and delivery to the agencies, finding collection barrels, new sorting sites as needed. He also would speak to churches who requested more information. It soon was apparent that a board of directors and a 501(c)(3) designation was needed. New to Billings, we didn’t know many people, but the right people with the needed gifts showed up. If there was any question before that all of this was God’s work, when Sheryle Shandy joined the board in 1986 and then became executive director in 1987, there is no longer any doubt. Under her leadership and vision, plus an early grant from the Sample Foundation, the Billings Food Bank has become what it is today.
Gordon selected the logo of the freckle-faced boy eating a slice of bread. When you see it, think of this unassuming, gentle soul with a great sense of humor who usually offered “How are you doing, kid?” as a greeting.
Gordon loved to sing (off-key, mostly) and knew the words to all the old songs. He loved to fly-fish, to hunt ducks and especially pheasants. He loved his family and friends, and will be greatly missed by them. Nancy was blessed by nearly 50 years with this very dear man.
Gordon is survived by Nancy, Steven and Molly; his oldest sister, Jeanne of Sioux Falls; and youngest sister Kathleen of Wilmington, North Carolina, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank the staffs of Tendernest and Stillwater Hospice for Gordon’s excellent care these final months. We also appreciate all the kindnesses and caring concern of friends as well.
Memorial donations may be made to St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church or a charity of your choice.
A memorial mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 2055 Woody Drive.