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, in West Bend.
A celebration of Gordonís life will be held at Advent Lutheran Church
located at W63 N642 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, on Friday, Dec. 9, at
6 p.m. The family will receive friends on Friday, at the church from
3 p.m. until the time of the 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.Mueller-funeralhome.com.
Mueller Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the family.
Gordon was born to his earthly life on Feb. 7, 1929, in Milwaukee.
Growing up at 3286 N. 47th St., Milwaukee, he graduated high school
from Boys Tech. From there, the family moved to a cattle ranch in
While spending a couple of years on the ranch and study at Colorado
State University, he was drafted by the U.S. 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, who
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 his father,
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 at 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
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 longtime 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 Midwest 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 groupsí
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, in 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.
Gordon was the 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 great-grandfather to Michael Taraboi, Daniel
Taraboi, Abigail Taraboi, Lydia Taraboi, and Andrew Taraboi. He is
further survived by a niece, Janice Priebusch-Hauke; nephew, Jeff
Zemple; and other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his father, Edward H., and his mother,
Linda R. (nee Nommensen) Praefke; and his sisters, Bernice (Earl)
Brandau, Charlotte (Leonard) Zempel, Alice Praefke and Grace Praefke.