March 9, 1931 ~ December 16, 2022
Gordon Berthold Gustav Jaeger, 91, of Washington Island, Wisconsin, died peacefully on December 16, 2022, with his loving son, Keith and daughter-in-law, Caro, by his side. Gordon was preceded in death by his mother, Gertrude Jaeger, his spouse, Kay Elizabeth Jaeger, his first wife, Patricia Uttech Jaeger, and his son-in-law, Fred Gillette.
Born on March 9, 1931, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he grew up on Milwaukee’s South Side and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree. From there he pursued a long and distinguished career in public service. This began in the Navy, where he made the first flight monitoring the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, and was followed by many innovative achievements in city management and civic administration.
He met Patricia Uttech in the band at UWM and they were soon married. On the completion of his service in the US Navy, he relocated back to Wisconsin with his wife and young family, serving as a Recreations Director for the City of Merrill, Wisconsin and completed a Masters degree at Indiana University. Gordon’s next appointment was in Normal, Illinois where he served as Parks and Recreation Director and then moved into a City Administrator role.
From there Gordon served as City Manager for several communities and was a lifelong member of the City Managers Association. First, in Muscatine, Iowa he created a public/business association that led to the renovation of the downtown and riverside. Next, Gordon returned to Wisconsin as City Manager of Oshkosh, seeing the town through a devastating tornado in 1974 and the subsequent recovery – coordinating with the National Guard and Federal agencies.
Gordon became City Manager of Battle Creek, Michigan, and married Kathryn Elizabeth “Kay” Wooster in 1976. Gordon was instrumental in the merging of the township and city as part of the long-term sustainability required by local businesses, to help keep the Kellogg corporate headquarters in Battle Creek. He also developed one of the first trade free manufacturing zones in Battle Creek and used it to convince many new companies to build facilities in the community.
Gordon retired from his city manager role in Battle Creek and continued to do consulting engagements on city management issues including serving as the interim City Manager in Munising, Michigan, as an adviser to the City of Pilsen in the Czech Republic, and as consultant to the country of Kyrgyzstan.
The Island has been an important part of Gordon’s life since he started cycling there as a young man and through his cousin Beverley Jaeger Hudson. He and Kay bought the farmhouse on East Side Road and eventually retired there full time. And over the years he dedicated himself to island life and making improvements to the farm. Gordon was active in many island activities, including the Washington Island Music Festival, and the Washington Island Art and Nature Center. Gordon served as Town Chairman for two terms and as Town Administrator, when asked by the then Chairman. Gordon continued his lifelong love of music and joined the island band in his 80’s, playing the clarinet. He was an avid sportsman, and played tennis, skied, and cycled well into his senior years. His last acquisition was an electric bike, bought for his 90th birthday.
Gordon is survived by his son, Keith Jaeger, daughter-in-law Caro Jaeger, stepdaughters Sarah Gillette and Anne Noble, and grandsons Ryan Jaeger, Eric Gillette (married to Marissa), and Brett Jaeger. Sadly, his younger son, Brian, also known as Alexander Hunter, passed away unexpectedly in Aspen, Colorado, in January 2023. The memorial service for Gordon Jaeger will take place in the Bethel Evangelist Free Church, 1821 Main Rd., Washington Island, WI 54246, on Saturday, June 3, at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in the name of Gordon Jaeger, to the Washington Island Music Festival at: https://www.washingtonislandmusicfestival.com/support-us