Obituary: Gordon Lawrence Hegenbarth

February 29, 1932 ~ November 4, 2021

Gordon Lawrence Hegenbarth, 89, of Sister Bay, died peacefully on November 4, 2021 at Good Samaritan Society-Scandia Village in Sister Bay with Susan, his wife of 66 years, at his side.

Gordon was born February 29, 1932 in Columbus, OH, the son of Lawrence and Marian Louise (Richter) Hegenbarth. He graduated from Lakewood High School in 1949. Gordon then studied business at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), earning BS (1953) and MBA (1954) degrees and meeting his future wife, Susan Mary Smith. While at Miami, he was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Beta Alpha Psi and enjoyed singing in a barbershop quartet. Gordon and Susan married in 1955 in Middletown, OH.  He then worked briefly for Ford Motor Company before serving two years in the United States Army Audit Agency in Baltimore.

Following his Army service, Gordon and Susan returned to the Detroit area where he spent most of his career as a financial analyst at various companies including Ford, American Motors, Management & Capital Company, and Metropolitan Savings Association. They also lived in the early 1960s in Manhattan, NY while Gordon worked for Sherman Fairchild & Associates. Gordon served on the Board of Directors of Salem Corporation in Carnegie, PA from 1969-1985. In Michigan, the family first lived in the Milford area, then in Orchard Lake where they enjoyed a wide variety of water activities. In 1983, they moved to Rockford, IL where Gordon was Senior VP of Finance at SwedishAmerican Hospital until his retirement in 1991. Upon retirement, Sue and Gordon settled in Baileys Harbor in beautiful Door County, WI.   

Gordon was an avid, expert lifelong sailor who owned numerous sailing craft and other boats. In addition, he spent many years in competitive sailing as helmsman of the highly successful Moonraker yacht (based in Detroit/owned by Nils Muench). Gordon particularly loved the intense, long distance Mackinac races and the subsequent camaraderie and enduring friendships. He sailed his Wayfarer dinghy Red Shift for most of his life in Michigan and Wisconsin, then ultimately acquired his own cruising sailboats Salute followed by Hurrah. Gordon also enjoyed the thrills of sailing his iceboat with friends in Michigan. In Door County, he and Sue kept Salute and Hurrah at Cedar Grove Resort (which eventually became Bayview Resort & Harbor) in Ellison Bay from 1984-2015 and thoroughly enjoyed belonging to that sailing community. Gordon developed and patented ‘Plotfix’, a well-reviewed navigation tool sold in specialty sailing venues. He loved music, nature, bird watching, and was an excellent photographer; he developed photographs in his home darkrooms producing many treasured pictures. Gordon also read widely and was an excellent writer; in the mid-70s he published a business humor column for the Pontiac Press. He was a wine connoisseur and longtime member of a local wine club in northern Door County. Gordon loved hanging out at the dock as well as entertaining at home; he was especially known for his humor and excellent margaritas. In 2016, they moved to the Meadows at Good Samaritan Society-Scandia Village in Sister Bay.

Gordon will be missed by his wife of 66 years, Susan; daughters, Mary Hegenbarth of Kansas City, MO and Jane (Phil) Korest of Durham, NC; grandchildren, David Korest and Emily Korest; brother, James (Carole) Hegenbarth of Houston, TX; sister-in-law, Sarah Betts of South Bend, IN; and other relatives.  

Gordon’s life will be celebrated by his family at a later date.

Memorials may be given in his name for The Ridges Sanctuary (; 920-839-2802).

Our family would like to thank the staffs of Scandia Village and Unity Hospice for the kind and compassionate care given to Gordon during the last months of his life.

Casperson Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Sister Bay is assisting the Hegenbarth family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Gordon may be shared with his family through his tribute page at

Believe me my young friend, there is nothing-absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” (Ratty to Mole, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame)