Gordon E. Praefke, 82

Gordon E. Praefke was born to eternal life on Nov. 27, 2011 at the age of 82 on his farm, Equus Paradise, West Bend. A celebration of Gordonís life will be held at Advent Lutheran Church located at W63 N642 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, on Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. The family will receive friends on Friday, at the church from 3 p.m. until time of service. The Rev. Dr. Janis J. Kinens will be presiding. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Washington County Habitat for Humanity or to Advent Lutheran Church are appreciated.

For online condolences, please visit www.Muellerfuneralhome.com

Gordon was born to his earthly life on Feb. 7, 1929, in Milwaukee. He grew up at 3286 N. 47th St. Milwaukee, graduating high school from Boys Tech. From there the family moved to a cattle ranch in Bellvue, Colo.

While spending a couple of years on the ranch and of study at Colorado State University, he was drafted by the United States Army. After basic training in Georgia, Gordon was stationed in Japan, where he fixed tracked and untracked vehicles for the Korean War. Serving his country for two years and making rank of corporal, Gordon was honorably discharged on April 7, 1953. Upon returning to Colorado, he resumed his studies and graduated from Colorado State University in 1956 with a degree in Animal Husbandry. Shortly after graduation, he returned with the family to Milwaukee.

It was at this time Gordon went back to work for his father whom resumed management of Praefke Auto Electric at 29th Street and Fond du Lac Avenue. Around 1960, the name was changed to Praefke Brake and Supply Corp., and Gordon purchased the company from Edward. Under Gordonís leadership, the company progressed from a small local distributor and remanufacturer of various automotive parts, to adding a network of three Gordonís #1 Wheel Service center locations across the greater Milwaukee area. From there, his focus was to transition from a parts distribution and service center organization, into a manufacturer of automotive aftermarket brake parts. This began to be realized after moving the automotive aftermarket operations to a facility on 8075 N. 76th St. in 1986. The transition was completed after purchasing an OEM trailer brake division from EIS/Parker-Hannifin located in the Pick Manufacturing Plant on 133 Oak St. West Bend. The operations were eventually sold in 2003 when Gordon retired.

Throughout most of his life, Gordon was an active member of a number of different organizations. When he was a child, he was a member of the Boy Scouts, and a member of the Cudworth Drum and Bugle Corps. where he played his drums at sunrise services on the Milwaukee lakefront. While attending Colorado State, he was a member of the Acacia Fraternity. Then into his adult years he became a free and accepted Mason. He was a long-time standing member of the Brown Deer Lodge, and served as the secretary for many years. More recently he became a member of George Washington 1776 Lodge when the Brown Deer Lodge merged with them in 2002.

Building on his roots in Masonry, Gordon became a member of the Tripoli Shrine. Once a member of the shrine, he joined the Spahis Horse Patrol. It was here, where Gordonís current passion for horses and horsemanship were realized. Through this group, he had the joy and privilege to ride his horse in events such as The Tripoli Shrine Circus, The Great Circus Parade, The Mid-West Shrine Packer game, the Wauwatosa 4th of July Parade and other great venues. Because of Gordonís dedication to the members and their animals, he was appointed the highest honor and rank serving as the groupís Commandant (leader). Along with these groups, Gordon was a member of the Order of the Jesterís, George Washington Stein Club, Cudworth Post, past member of Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association, and numerous other automotive groups.

It was Gordonís farm and home, Equus Paradise, West Bend, where all of his passions merged. Whether practicing for the next parade, entertaining family and friends, taking his grandchildren for a hay ride or his never-ending dedication to working hard, the farm provided the stage for it all. Purchased in 1987 through the same man his dad bought his farm from, with unimaginable hard work and determination, Gordon transformed a retired dairy farm, barn and house into a wondrous place for family, friends and animals to enjoy. Even though he considered himself retired, those who knew him came to realize he never wanted to retire from here. It was fitting that it was this place, where he set out to do one of his projects, when his earthly life suddenly ended and his heavenly life began.

Beloved husband of Mary (nee Arnold). Loving father of Carson Praefke, Barbara Praefke, Jason (Susanne) Praefke, Kathryn (James) Spaude, Kurt (Connie) Willer, Mary Beth (Rick) Waters, and James (Karen) Willer. Loving grandfather of Nicholas (Julie) Taraboi, Michael (Sarah) Taraboi, Nicole (James) Roca, Joseph Taraboi, James Taraboi, Rebecca Willer, Kyle Willer, Ethan Willer, Tommy Willer, Charlie Willer, Samuel Spaude, Wyatt Praefke, Elisabeth Praefke, and Matthew Willer. Loving greatgrandfather to Michael Taraboi, Daniel Taraboi, Abigail Taraboi, Lydia Taraboi, and Andrew Taraboi. Further survived by niece Janice Priebusch-Hauke, nephew Jeff Zemple and other relatives and friends. Preceded in death by his father Edward H. and his mother Linda R. (nee Nommensen) Praefke his sisters, Bernice (Earl) Brandau, Charlotte (Leonard) Zempel, Alice Praefke and Grace Praefke.