Gary C. Gapen, age 77 of Stillwater, MN, formerly of Madison, WI, passed away unexpectedly Friday, March 31, 2023 at his home. Gary was born in Peru, IL, to Leo and Lyla (Cleer) Gapen. He grew up in Peru, and graduated from Peru High School with the class of 1963. He continued his education at Wartburg College in Waverly, IA, where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Social Work. Gary was united in marriage to Carol Enberg on October 28, 1972 in Rockford, IL. The couple moved to Owensboro, KY, where their son Jonathan was born. A year later they moved to the place they would call home for most of Gary's adult life, Madison, WI, where they welcomed twin sons Mark and David. Gary worked as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor for forty-one years before his retirement, with thirty-two of those years spent with the Dane County Mental Health Center. In 2016, Gary and Carol relocated to Stillwater, MN to be closer to two of their grandchildren.
Gary loved fireworks, and was a member of the Pyrotechnics Guild International (PGI). He loved going to the PGI conferences to enjoy (in no particular order) camping, tequila, and to see the great firework displays. Inspired by the PGI, for many years he put on memorable displays of his own during the annual Solstice party at his home. Gary had interest in just about all things, but none greater than his pursuit of finding perfect fried chicken. He cherished memories of eating the greatest fried chicken imaginable at Rip's Tavern in Ladd, IL during his childhood. Wherever life took him thereafter, he was always on the lookout for comparable fried chicken. Gary was a good cook and enjoyed camping and spending time with his dogs.
Gary will remain in the hearts of his wife of 50 years, Carol; sons, Jonathan Gapen, Mark Gapen (Angela Bodley), and David (Clare Sorman) Gapen; grandchildren, Leo, Colin, Madeleine and Oliver; and other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Leo and Lyla Gapen.
A private family celebration of Gary's life will be held. Memorial contributions may be directed to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (https://www.lbda.org/), the American Diabetes Association (https://diabetes.org/), or any other charity or cause close to your heart.
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