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Gorden Hedahl 07/24/2021

Gorden Hedahl 07/24/2021

Gorden Orlin Hedahl, age 75, died on Saturday, July 24, 2021 at his home in River Falls, Wisconsin. Gorden was born in Minot, North Dakota on January 2, 1946 to Chester Owen and Delores May (Johnson) Hedahl. Gorden graduated from New Town High School in New Town, North Dakota in 1964. He was the first member of his family to attend college, earning a B.S. from the University of North Dakota in 1968, an M.A. in theatre from the University of North Dakota in 1972, and a Ph.D. in theatre from the University of Minnesota in 1980. Gorden was the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, as well as a Professor of Theatre at both the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. International education was a priority for Gorden; he ended his career with UW-RF’s International Traveling Classroom. He was an educator, administrator, and life-long mentor to his students and colleagues. He was often praised for his thoughtful, gentle, and caring demeanor as well as his warm, infectious laugh. While serving as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Purdue University, Gorden met his beloved wife Jean Loudon, and the two were married in the Loudon Family Chapel in Corydon, Indiana on December 31, 1983. Together they helped raise Gorden’s two children from a previous marriage, Marc and Melissa. Gorden and Jean lived in Whitewater, Wisconsin; Fairbanks, Alaska; and River Falls, Wisconsin. Wherever they lived, they enjoyed singing in the church choir, involving themselves in the local community, and traveling as much of the world as they could. Gorden was active in the River Falls Community for over twenty years: He was one of the founding members of the River Falls Chapter of the Rotary Club, eventually serving as President. Through Rotary, Gorden led an international team of young professionals to India, and participated in friendship exchanges to Brazil and the Philippines. He was also a founding and active member of HOPE Lutheran Church. Throughout his life, he was actively involved in theatre, directing numerous shows after retirement with the River Falls Community Theatre, The Phipps Center for the Arts, and the Lakeshore Players. As a director, Gorden was known for his creativity, generosity, and humility, always bringing out the best in his cast and crew. Gorden is survived by his wife of 37 years, Jean Loudon of River Falls, WI; his son Marc Hedahl (Abby) of Washington DC; his daughter Melissa Kirkendall (Jeremy) of Kill Devil Hills, NC; his grandchildren Annabelle and Lincoln Kirkendall; his siblings Karen Rohde (Brad) of Garrison, ND, Joan Weyrauch (Scott), of Glendale, AZ, and John Carlson of Hamilton, MT. A visitation for family and friends was scheduled for Friday, July 30th, 5:00-7:00 p.m. Funeral services were scheduled for Saturday, July 31st at 11:00 a.m. and streamed live through the link just beow this obituary with a luncheon to follow. All of these events were held at the outdoor pavilion at the HOPE Lutheran Church, 3337 Kingsbarn Ave., River Falls, Wisconsin. Memorials in Gorden’s memory may be directed to any of the following: The Hedahl Scholarship Fund at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls; HOPE Lutheran Church; The Rotary Club of River Falls; or The Marfan Foundation. Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services

Click here to watch Gorden’s service


  • Lisa Ziebarth Posted July 24, 2021 3:42 pm

    deepest sympathies to Jean abs the family. Gordon will
    Be greatly missed.

  • Dave Brooks Posted July 24, 2021 4:00 pm

    Gorden was one in a million! If it wasn’t foe him, I would have never been cast in White Christmas. He was an absolute incredible joy to work with! My heart hurts for his family. Thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time 🙁

  • Roger & Verna Tweiten Posted July 24, 2021 4:17 pm

    We mourn the loss of this giant of a man who made great contributions personally and academically he will be dearly missed we send our condolences to his partner and wife Jean

  • Linda Posted July 24, 2021 4:34 pm

    Gotten was a giant! We walked to school together everyday and were classmates! Our families are intertwined. He will forever be missed by his wife and family. Our deepest sympathies… Linda L. Long and Ralph E. Sallade Spokane, Washington.

  • Ezelda Hasapopoulos Posted July 24, 2021 4:47 pm

    Gorden was such a bright light to the theater community and more. I was honored to work with him on a few shows and feel blessed that my kids were able to experience wonderful things under his direction. He will be greatly missed. God bless you Gorden and may God protect and continue to shed His light on his beautiful wife and family.

  • Sandy Soares Posted July 24, 2021 5:36 pm

    Jean, you are so fortunate to have had so many joyous years together, so many travels, so much wonder to share.

  • Dale Dutton Posted July 24, 2021 5:57 pm

    My condolences to Jean and family. Don & Delores Carlson were numbered among my favourite cousins. On the rare occasions that I met Gordon at family get -togethers,, I recall Gorden as being friendly, kind and sincere. He will truly be missed.

  • Eunita Rushing Posted July 24, 2021 8:25 pm

    Gordon was my professor at the University of Wisconsin. When I think of him I remember he wad always had a big smile on his face! My condolences to you Jean and the family.

  • Ken and Pam Stofferahn Posted July 24, 2021 9:05 pm

    I felt so grateful for his guidance and friendship. A true artist and a dedicated to the education of the student. Gorden and Jean were a beautiful couple who shared so much of life together. Blessings and peace.

  • Paul Dodge Posted July 24, 2021 11:51 pm

    Jean, for as long as I’ve known him, Gorden and I have exchanged well wishes on our birthdays. I had the good fortune to have him as my professor, and mentor. I will never forget the time he and I went to see a play at The Phipps. I will miss the conversations we had at the Starbucks, and the updates on Facebook about your many adventures. He was truly one of a kind. My condolences to you and your family.

  • Lisa Dutton Posted July 25, 2021 7:28 am

    My condolences to Jean, Karen, John, Joan and families. Rest In Peace Gorden.

  • Jeff Frank Posted July 25, 2021 7:43 am

    My deepest condolences. I was blessed to have Gorden as a mentor and friend throughout my life. I would not be who I am or have the career I’ve had without his guidance and support. He will be dearly missed by myself and so many. I hope that I can continue to live up to the life of generosity, humility and love that Gorden led.

  • Russ McCord Posted July 25, 2021 9:01 am

    Deepest Sympathy to Jean, family and friends of Gorden. I meet Gorden at Monona Grove High School where he inspired me to pursue an education in Theatre at Whitewater. He said, “you will be good for outdoor theatre, because you’re so tall”. Gorden was my mentor and modeled leadership, altruism, joy and love. Gorden will always be in my heart.

  • Barbara Rees Posted July 25, 2021 9:38 am

    “Good night, sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” You will be missed, Gorden, by everyone who knew you.

  • Tom Hofmeister Posted July 25, 2021 11:01 am

    I’m so sorry to see this great man go. You have my condolences.

  • Anton Delgado Posted July 25, 2021 11:11 am

    My sincere condolences to Jean and their family. Gordon enhanced and touched many lives throughout his career. He was an amazing creative man.

  • Kim Mazur Posted July 25, 2021 2:40 pm

    I had the pleasure of working with Gordon on most of the shows he directed at The Phipps. I was one of the properties persons for most of his shows there. He always had a warm smile, caring hug and was always ready with a positive comment of encouragement. I will miss him dearly.

  • Barrie Mayer Posted July 25, 2021 2:48 pm

    Gorden was such an inspiration to so many of us aspiring actors and directors. I learned so much working with him; he was a joy to be around and will be truly missed.

  • CAROLYN MAE BODENSTEINER Posted July 25, 2021 4:38 pm

    Sincere sympathy to Jean, his son, and daughter. He was a gentle giant, and I’m not talking about his height. He inspired so many. I knew him as a supervisor, teacher, and friend. His memories are in the hearts of so, so many students who crossed his path. I’m so glad he crossed mine. Rest in peace!

  • Ian Williams Posted July 25, 2021 8:03 pm

    We are very sad indeed to learn of Gorden’s passing and will miss him, particularly at the scotch tastings. Thinking of you, Jean. Lesley & Ian

  • Marti Piepgras, River Falls Posted July 26, 2021 9:28 am

    Gorden was perhaps the greatest Rotarian I have met. He exemplified the best of its ideals. And was a fun person to be around! Thank you Gorden for lighting up this world.

  • Eileen Korenic Posted July 26, 2021 10:47 am

    Gorden directed me in “Shirley Valentine” in 2005. He gave me the most specific directions I’ve ever gotten from a director: say the first half of the line, walk 5 steps downstage right, pick out a woman in the second row and deliver the rest of the line to her. Got the biggest laugh of the show! Not even the Tony winner nor playwright who did the show on Broadway got that big a reaction. Gorden was a genius and a truly creative and kind man. With condolences to Jean and all his family.

  • Kendra Morgan Posted July 26, 2021 11:19 am

    My deepest sympathy to the family of Gorden. I met him through the River Falls Rotary club and was always inspired by his spirit of service and long history of contributions to the club. He was a wonderful man and brought so much to the club over the years. He will be greatly missed!

  • Jackie Hill Posted July 26, 2021 11:37 am

    My heart aches for you and your family, Jean. I’ll never forget Gorden’s shocked face, followed by that amazing laugh when I asked him, at the Red Lantern, to explain the plot of the play Country Wife to me the night before our final show. Such a kind man! Jean, you have a lifetime of incredible experiences to remember. I hope they see you through this difficult time.

  • Michael and Maureen Posted July 26, 2021 5:06 pm

    My heart aches with the loss of Gorden, Jean, for he was always smiling and upbeat in ways that few people can match. His laughter filled the room, and I always loved talking academia with him, whether about plays, teaching or administration. I know he touched the lives of many, many students and colleagues. I’ll miss his stories at the farm and his enthusiasm for life and love for all. Your grief will give way to the beautiful life that the two of you made together in the many memories that will live on in all those whom he inspired with such kindness, wisdom and compassion. He will seem, to those fortunate enough to have known and met him, to have been, to be, everywhere. Our condolences. Michael and Maureen

  • Patricia Berg Posted July 26, 2021 7:41 pm

    I am so very sorry to hear this. Gorden was so kind and so remarkably upbeat even when his health was failing. He was a good man. He will be greatly missed.

  • Beth Posted July 26, 2021 8:48 pm

    He has been through so much and has survived a lot. This was a shock, I didn’t expect. I am thinking about all of you and knowing that you are remembering the good time, and there were lots. Take care.

  • Sandy Wollan Posted July 27, 2021 10:43 am

    So sad to lose Gorden and my condolences to all of his family. He was a good man and cousin. He will be missed.

  • Nathan Posted July 27, 2021 10:46 am

    First met Gorden in 2019, and am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him on several projects over the last few years. Was a genuine pleasure to work with always, and one of the kindest and most positive people I’ve ever met. He could laugh in the face of a hurricane and genuinely enjoy it. He’s someone to look up to and will be missed.

  • David Trechter Posted July 27, 2021 11:30 am

    Gorden was a warm, friendly, caring, gentle man. Every interaction with him was a joy. My heart goes out to you Jean.

  • Mark Box and Elizabeth Shapland Posted July 27, 2021 1:52 pm

    Jean, anyone who knew the two of you knows what a bond you had, and not having a mailing address for you, we will send our sympathy in this way. Hang tight to all the wonderful memories you made together. We sure enjoyed getting to know you both during your time in Alaska.

  • Linda and Jim Madseb Posted July 27, 2021 3:54 pm

    Dear Jean: So sorry to hear about Gorden. We will always remember how he would address you with “Yes, my love.” It was very sweet. Linda and I always enjoyed talking to you both. We will miss Gorden’s booming laugh and how he said right when discussing something. So postive!

  • Kathryn Rich Posted July 27, 2021 5:57 pm

    Gorden was such a kind and gifted soul. I feel fortunate to have known known him. Deepest sympathies to Jean and the rest of his beloved family.

  • Alan Tuchtenhagen Posted July 27, 2021 6:29 pm

    This world is a better place because on Gorden. What a wonderful man. He will be deeply missed.

  • Steve Ridley Posted July 27, 2021 7:00 pm

    So sorry to hear of Gordon’s passing. It was both an honor and a pleasure to have worked with.him.

  • Gail Upton Posted July 27, 2021 7:13 pm

    Gordon made the world a better place. I met him when he cast me in A Christmas Carol. He was intelligent, amusing, and incredibly kind. He kept his positive attitude even in the last difficult weeks. My sympathies to Jean and family.

  • Susan McClelland Posted July 27, 2021 7:13 pm

    Sincere sympathy to all the Hedahl family for this tragic loss. Although I didn’t know Gordon or Jean, I have had the pleasure of knowing his delightful children which I’m certain are an extension of him.and his character. May there be blessings in beautiful memories.

  • Doreena Loescher Posted July 27, 2021 7:13 pm

    Gordon was a wonderful man, kind, smart, talented and will be truly missed. My condolences to Jean and family and I am very sad to hear of his passing.

  • Walt Boyer Posted July 27, 2021 7:52 pm

    Gorden was very patient with me as a student actor. I can still hear his infectious laugh and smile. Thank you for being a kind teacher/mentor to me.

  • Mary Sherman Posted July 27, 2021 9:37 pm

    Gordie served as such an amazing example of someone who found joy and positivity in each moment. His spirit will live on in all is us who try to emulate his indomitable view of life and all it’s possibilities.

  • Faye Perkins Posted July 27, 2021 11:03 pm

    Gorden was a wonderful, warm, friendly, honest, and hard-working person. We all benefitted by knowing Gorden and he will be missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers go to Jean and the extended family. The final curtain is drawn on a life well lived.

  • William Wilber Posted July 27, 2021 11:40 pm

    Gordon was a year older than me but I knew him from grade school on.
    With his positive attitude and infectious laugh, it was good to be in his company.
    I respected and looked up to him for leadership as did so many people did.

  • Thomas Weiss Posted July 28, 2021 8:46 am

    Jeanand family,
    We are so sorry to learn of his passing. I remember him well both at UW River Falls and as the Director of the Newman Center when he and others came and asked to use our Chapel to found Hope Lutheran. What a great and gentle man. We will be praying for him and the family. Deacon Tom and Mary Weiss

  • Leland Kulland Posted July 28, 2021 9:48 am

    Deepest sympathy to Jean and Gorden’s family and friends! Gorden and I met a few times recently and I found a new friend. It was impossible to not enjoy his company whether we talked about his travels, his educational career, or his family. He also was incredibly upbeat no matter what the situation. He also encouraged me when I had some recent medical issues. He truly was one of a kind and I will miss him.

  • Carole Mottaz Posted July 28, 2021 4:36 pm

    Gordon’s positive attitude, infectious chuckle and gentle manner will be sorely missed. He was a lovely human being. I’m happy for the 37 wonderful years you had together, Jean, but sad there weren’t more.

  • Tim Sheahan Posted July 28, 2021 5:35 pm

    Gorden was one of, if not, the best professor I ever had. I am so grateful for his encouragement and the opportunity to learn him. His knowledge of theatre and its history was without end, and his obvious passion for it stirred students to engage and desire to learn more. He was never one to become angry and was always patient with his students and those he directed.

  • Ron & Cheryl Waggoner Posted July 29, 2021 8:41 am

    We are so sad to hear this news. Gorden and Ron were classmates, team mates, and most of all friends at New Town High School. It was our pleasure to connect with him and Jean through the years at school reunions. It was always a sweet time of reminiscing. In addition to Gorden’s accomplishments and honors, we will remember him most for his loyalty to his class of ’64 as he continued to keep in touch with and encourage his high school classmates. We send our love, prayers, and condolences to Jean and the rest of the family. He will be missed by many.

  • Wayne Olson and Myrna Mitchell Posted July 29, 2021 10:27 am

    One of my oldest memories of Gorden was our freshman year of High School in New Town, ND. Gorden and another friend, Warren Ventsch met at my house so we could walk to school together in our freshman initiation “outfits”. I think mine was a wedding dress with a toy gun and holster strapped to my hip complete with a cowboy hat and I am sure I must have had some makeup on. That was 62 years ago! I don’t remember Gorden’s outfit but I am sure it was equally flattering. Gorden was not only the best lifelong friend I could have ever hoped to have, he was a genuinely special person. I always described him as the best combination of intelligence and kindness of any person I ever knew. My heart goes out to Jean and all of Gorden’s family and friends. Myrna and I want to especially thank Jean for being such a loving partner to Gorden. I know Gorden loved her with all his heart.

  • Derek Tendersong Washington Posted July 30, 2021 7:51 am

    Gorden was a light and joy through his gracious interactions, his desire to know someone, and his openness to life. I enjoyed singing with Gorden in the River Falls community choir, and I will remember his laugh. May grace touch your grief, Jean, as your love is expressed in your loss.

  • Jo St. Clair Posted July 31, 2021 11:41 am

    My sincere. condolences Jean, Marc, Melissa and to all who knew Gorden. There are so many life lessons that Gorden taught me and stuck with me since. A big smile, an amazing mind for creativity and always keeping it real. I am. better for having known him. Thank you.

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