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Sunset Hills Memorial Park & Funeral Home

1215 145th Place SE, Bellevue, WA

OBITUARY

Gordon Gene Conger

May 26, 1935July 25, 2020

In Loving Remembrance

Gordon Gene Conger passed away July 25, 2020 at the age of 85. He was born May 26,1935 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Gene Moore Conger and Katheryn Hart Conger. He grew up in Seattle, Washington, graduating from Queen Anne High School in 1953, and attended Brigham Young University, where he met his wife Myrna Shurtliff, of Overton, Nevada. They graduated together in 1959 and were married June 6, 1959 in the Saint George, Utah temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They settled in Seattle, Washington, where Gordon attended law school at the University of Washington and joined the law firm of Preston, Thorgrimson, Ellis, & Holman, where Gordon was instrumental in the firm’s work on the purchase of articulated buses for Metro, and served as chief legal counsel to KIRO Broadcasting, among many other things.

Gordon served faithfully in many callings for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including many years of service as a beloved scoutmaster who took his scouts backpacking all over the mountains and taught them to love the wilderness. Other callings for the Church included Bishop, Stake President, Area Seventy, member of the Northwest Area Presidency, and Gordon’s favorite callings because they were with his wife, president of the Seattle Temple and co-directors of the Church’s Greater Seattle Area Public Affairs Council. Gordon also devoted many hours to community service, as chair of the City of Bellevue Planning Commission, member of the board of directors of the King and Kitsap Counties chapter of the American Red Cross, member of the board of directors of the Urban League of Greater Seattle, and participation on the Seattle Interfaith Council, where he developed many cherished friendships with members of other faiths.

Gordon and Myrna raised their family in Bellevue, Washington, where they lived until the time of his death. They enjoyed spending time together on camping trips and road trips, sailing in the San Juan Islands, and backpacking in Gordon’s beloved Olympic and Cascade mountains, strengthening relationships with each other and creating many wonderful family memories. Gordon is survived by his wife Myrna and children Cindy (Eric), Alyson (Phil), Brad (Kris), and David (Ali); siblings Elizabeth Mueller and Doug Conger; and 12 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, July 29th at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 10675 NE 20th St. in Bellevue, and interment was at Sunset Hills Memorial Park. Condolences may be expressed to the family at dignitymemorial.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Gene and Katheryn Hart Scholarship fund. Instructions forthcoming.

  • PALLBEARERS

  • Brad Conger
  • Dave Conger
  • Eric Jorgenson
  • Phil Kropelnicki
  • Doug Conger
  • Matt Jorgenson
  • Nate Jorgenson
  • Merritt Kropelnicki
  • Hank Christiansen, Honorary
  • Ryan Gray, Honorary
  • Claus Mueller, Honorary
  • Matthew Conger, Honorary

Services

  • Funeral Services

    Wednesday, July 29, 2020

  • Graveside Service

    Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Memories

Gordon Gene Conger

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Jennifer Mackley

August 6, 2020

Brother and Sister Conger's influence in our family's life spans two decades and it has been a privilege working beside them and for them. They were serving as Temple President and Matron when our third child was sealed to us and they helped make it such a meaningful experience. I also served with them in Public Affairs for several years and will always appreciate their incredible kindness as mentors and friends. Our thoughts and sincere prayers are with Myrna and the Conger family, knowing that this temporary separation will be difficult, but with the assurance that life is eternal and Gordon's love and influence will continue with you until you are together again.

Lucrecia Bowley

July 29, 2020

My deepest sympathies to Sister Conger and family. The memories of both of you during our time at Bellevue Six Ward are full of wonderful memories, brother Conger kindness and love for everyone was always felt. My prayers of comfort for all of the family. We know you all will see him again but during this time, know how much you all are loved.

Luqui Bowley

Barton Kropelnicki

July 29, 2020

Gordon was the most loving and kind man I have ever known. Since I was a teenager I felt Gordons love for me and that he was watching out for me. We were greatly blessed when Alyson became a member of our family, she is an angel. Gordon always went out of his way to have one on one time with me when we ran into each other and at family functions. Being with Gordon I always felt his overwhelming love and acceptance for me and that we were family. Our conversations were amazing and filled with the Spirit. I love Gordon and will miss him. Goodnight sweet Prince.

Phil McMullin

July 29, 2020

From our entire temple family, we offer our sincere condolences to the Conger family. He was a giant among men. He served at the temple until the last moments of his life. Until we meet again, Pres. McMullin, Albrecht, Brown, our wives, and associates.

Annette & Scott Bowen

July 28, 2020

Annette & Scott Bowen

July 28, 2020

Learning from and serving with Gordon and Myrna Conger was one of the great highlights of our lives. It was a privilege to be taught by them, hosted by them, loved and supported by them. We believe that Gordon brought our Savior's love and light everywhere he served. He is a truly great Christlike man. We are grateful to know him and love him.

Larry Hall

July 28, 2020

Dear Conger Family, Before my father, Henry Hall passed away, he would talk often about his love for Gordon. He thought the world of him and talked about Gordon’s influence in his life after my dad joined the church at 19.

My entire family has nothing but fond memories as Gordon was always a kind and gracious man.

Colleen McMonagle

July 28, 2020

Working with Gordon on First Amendment cases at Preston Thorgrimson Ellis & Holman was one of the highlights of my legal career. He was a wonderful mentor to me. My most sincere condolences to his family and spiritual community.

Claudia Evans

July 27, 2020

Dear Conger Family,
I am so grateful for the dignified, articulate, spiritual man who led Bellevue Stake for many years, contributing his time and energy and Gospel understanding to everyone within the sound of his voice. Much love at this sensitive time.
Sister Claudia Evans

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Gordon Gene Conger was born May 26,1935 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, the second child of Gene Moore Conger and Katheryn Hart Conger. His earliest memories were of swinging on a rope swing and playing in a large vacant lot next door to their small house in Rexburg, where his father taught at Ricks College. When he was three years old, his parents, who had never lived outside of Idaho, packed up their belongings in a small home-made trailer that Gene had built, and moved across the country to Washington, D.C., where they spent a year while Gordon’s father received training at the Federal Housing Administration. Gordon’s mother wasted no time in getting out to see the sights of the capitol with Gordon and his older sister Lois. Gordon remembered following his mother and sister on his tricycle through endless art galleries and museums. At the end of their year there, Gene was assigned to the San Francisco FHA office, and the little family headed back across the country. Three years there brought the beginning of World War II, along with the birth of Gordon’s sister Elizabeth and another move, this time to the family’s final destination in Seattle, Washington. Gordon grew up there in Magnolia, which he called a “paradise for active boys age seven and up,” playing tennis, baseball, and touch football at the park across the street from his house. Besides succeeding in sports, he also excelled in his studies, and developed a life-long love of reading, devouring boys’ adventure series one after another. He recalled continuously checking out five books at a time from the library for a two-week period—by the end of which all five were always finished. He was also a hard worker from a young age, delivering newspapers, and working at age 12 as a clerk at the local supermarket.

All through these years the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the center of his and his family’s lives, and although the Church started small in Seattle, it grew quickly from one small ward to three. Primary activities, church sports, speaking in church, and early leadership opportunities all were shaping influences in Gordon’s life. He found a new passion when he became old enough to join Boy Scouts, and summer camps at Camp Parsons became the highlight of his year. An entire week would be spent backpacking all over the Olympics, and Gordon’s lifelong love of the mountains was born. He also learned much that shaped his character. He recounts how after working all through his scouting years to earn the merit badges necessary to receive his Eagle Scout Award, the pinnacle of scouting, he was at his last year of scout camp and had just one badge left—the birding merit badge—which required identifying a dizzying 40 bird species in the field. He said, “The last day of merit badge work, when it came time to get signed off, I had only seen 20-some birds during our bird walks at camp. Many other scouts were just writing down birds they had seen at other times. I did not do that, as it seemed weird to me to cheat to get a scout rank. It would have been a tarnished Eagle. Of course I regretted not getting the Eagle rank, but I have never regretted deciding not to cheat to get it.”

Gordon’s family became complete with the birth of his younger brother Douglas. They had strong family traditions—summer vacation trips to Idaho and Camano Island, birthday celebrations, and day trips to Lake Wilderness, Mount Index, and other places in western Washington. In school he was elected student-body president, and he played on the football team at Queen Anne High School and was selected from among students all over Washington state as governor for a day, getting to cut his leadership teeth sitting at the governor’s desk.

Gordon attended Brigham Young University, where he met and married his beloved wife Myrna Shurtliff after returning from serving a two-year mission for the Church in Eastern Canada. Gordon and Myrna graduated together in 1959, and Myrna worked as an elementary school teacher while Gordon attended law school at the University of Washington, where he was an Order of the Coif Honoree and member of the Washington Law Review Editorial Board. Upon graduating, he went to work for the then-small law firm of Preston, Thorgrimson, Ellis, & Holman. He worked his way up to partner, but at the same time, and while his family was young and growing, he was called to serve as the Bishop of his ward. In these early days when he was burdened with both trying to show his dedication to the firm and serve his congregation, he never sacrificed his family’s place as the most important thing in his life. Other struggling legal associates would put in long hours on both weekdays and weekends—but Gordon was almost always home for dinner, and always spent Saturdays going on outings with his family, and Sundays fulfilling his church responsibilities.

Gordon quickly became a valued asset to his law firm. One partner of his recounts, “Gordon was a good man, principled and steadfast, and a knowledgeable and careful lawyer. He was always helpful to me and I could go (and did go) any time when I needed advice. Gordon could always look at legal problems logically, and sort them out and reduce them to one or two key issues.” He was instrumental in his firm’s work on the purchase of articulated buses for Metro, and he served as chief legal counsel to KIRO Broadcasting, among many other things.

Always in tandem with his legal profession, Gordon was serving faithfully in church callings. Many of his years of church service were spent in his beloved calling as Scoutmaster. Called “Goron” by his scouts, he took them backpacking all over the mountains, and taught them to love the wilderness. One of his former scouts says he was “the best scoutmaster of all time.” Other callings included Stake President, Area Seventy, member of the Northwest Area Presidency, and his favorite callings because they were with his wife, president of the Seattle Temple and co-director of the Greater Seattle Area Public Affairs Council. Gordon also found time for many hours of community service, serving as chair of the City of Bellevue Planning Commission, member of the board of directors of the King and Kitsap Counties chapter of the American Red Cross, and member of the board of directors of the Urban League of Greater Seattle. He and his wife Myrna were also the first members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be invited to serve on the Seattle Interfaith Council, where they developed many cherished friendships with members of other faiths.

Gordon received many awards and recognitions, but none of these or his other achievements ever came anywhere close in importance to his family. Camping trips, sailing in the San Juan Islands, road trips all over the West, and of course backpacking trips all were wonderful family times that created strong ties and a love of being together. Gordon and Myrna’s family of four children has grown to 12 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Gordon’s favorite thing to do, to the end, was spending time with his family. His legacy blesses the lives of all of his posterity, who strive to honor his example by following the things he taught them: “When you have a mountain to climb, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you will get to the top.” And “In life, as in camping in the wilderness, always leave it better than you found it.” And when faced with disappointment, “Life isn’t fair”—and—“It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” Gordon’s wisdom and example have touched the lives of all who knew him, and all who knew him are blessed by his association. He will ever be remembered as a man who took an interest in others, and in the world, and in making things better wherever he went.

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