Jonathan Gordon Zierdt, age 52, died on March 27, 2019 in Mankato, Minnesota.
He was born on August 18, 1966 to John “Jack” and Judith (Bodien) Zierdt. Jonathan attended kindergarten through grade 12 in Spring Valley, Minnesota, graduating Valedictorian in 1985. Jonathan was an active member in Boy Scouts, earning rank of Eagle Scout. He was inducted as a Vigil Honor member within the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s National Honor Society, and served one term as Chief of the Blue Ox Lodge. Jonathan was spiritually guided and confirmed by the Faith United Methodist Church, along with being a highly engaged Youth Fellowship member.
Following high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, graduating with highest academic honors in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Secondary Education with a minor in Coaching. Upon graduation, Jonathan was hired by Gamehaven Council of the Boy Scouts of America to serve as District Executive and Senior District Executive for Dodge and Steele counties (1990-1995). In 1995, Jonathan was asked to lead the United Way of Steele County as its Executive Director, followed by leading the Owatonna Chamber of Commerce as its President (1997-2000).
From 2000-2001, Jonathan co-lead an innovative entrepreneurial endeavor in talent recruitment and placement (LaborWorks, Inc.) with co-founders Dr. Bruce Locklear, Dr. Dawn Locklear, and Dr. Ginger Zierdt. From 2000-Present, Jonathan created and led a sole proprietorship, Zierdt Organization 5+ Consulting (ZO5+C), a consulting organization focused on strategic planning and organizational development.
While residing in Owatonna, Minnesota from 1990-2004, Jonathan remained active in the community, dedicating time and leadership to the Owatonna Rotary Club, along with co-leading the creation of a second club. Jonathan attended, as a delegate member, two international conventions, and served in executive officer roles.
Jonathan engaged professionally in the Greater Mankato area from 2004-2019, initially as the Executive Director of the Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation and then since 2007 as the President & CEO of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. (formed in 2007 from a merger of the Greater Mankato Chamber of Commerce and Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation). Amid the awards and recognitions Jonathan received throughout his career, standing out are two. In 2012, along with the City of Mankato Manager, Patrick Hentges, Jonathan was named the Most Influential (regarding Economic Development). In 2014, recognizing his work and community commitment outside of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc., the Greater Mankato Rotary Club awarded Zierdt its Service Above Self Award.
Throughout Jonathan’s 5+ year journey of navigating prostate and kidney cancer, he became a beacon of strength, positivity and perseverance. Openly sharing his cancer journey and faith, Jonathan was grateful for the compassion the community showed he and his wife of twenty-eight years, Ginger. In 2017, the Zierdts, along with a guiding coalition of engaged community leaders, established the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund to build community cancer awareness and support.
In the Mankato community, Jonathan served as Board President of the Mankato Family YMCA and the Board Chair of the Greater Mankato Area United Way. He also Co-Chaired the Community Celebrations Committee for Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Sesquicentennial in 2018. Jonathan had a kindred relationship to the pastoral staff and congregation of Hosanna Lutheran Church, and in 2018 realized a life-dream to travel to Israel to visit the Holy Land with a delegation of fellow disciples.
In 2017, Jonathan rekindled his love for photography, a passion first ignited in high school, and created J. Gordon Studios. It was his delight to shoot environmental photos in Iceland, Israel, and five national parks during the last two years of his life.
Jonathan is survived by his wife, Ginger; parents, John and Judy Zierdt; brother, Jeff Zierdt (Shelly); nephew, Aaron Zierdt; niece and God-daughter, Abby Wolf (Hunter); mother-in-law, Stella VanGrevenhof; and God-daughter, Ashley Thompson.
Jonathan was preceded in death by his father-in-law, Glen VanGrevenhof.
Family, friends, and others whose lives Jonathan touched are invited to the visitation from 1-4pm, Sunday, March 31, 2019 at Hosanna Lutheran Church, 105 Hosanna Drive, Mankato, Minnesota. Memorial service will be held at 11am, Monday, April 1, 2019 at Hosanna Lutheran Church with visitation one hour prior. Following the service, lunch will be served along with time for fellowship and reminiscence for Jonathan G. Zierdt. Please share a memory of Jonathan and view his video tribute when it is available at www.mankatomortuary.com.
Memorials may be made in Jonathan’s name to the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Mankato Area Foundation.
JONATHAN’S MISSION STATEMENT
I will make the lives of people and the communities in which they live better.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. (Colossians 3:23).