Jonathan Zierdt, 52, formerly of Spring Valley

Jonathan Gordon Zierdt, 52, died on March 27, 2019, in Mankato.

He was born on Aug. 18, 1966, to John “Jack” and Judith (Bodien) Zierdt.

He 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.

He was spiritually guided and confirmed by the Faith United Methodist Church, along with being a highly engaged Youth Fellowship member.

He attended kindergarten through grade 12 in Spring Valley, graduating valedictorian in 1985. Following high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, graduating with highest academic honors in 1990.

Upon graduation, he 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. In 1995, he 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.

From 2000 to 2001, he co-led an innovative entrepreneurial endeavor in talent recruitment and placement, LaborWorks, Inc. Until his death, he created and led a sole proprietorship, Zierdt Organization 5+ Consulting.

While residing in Owatonna, he remained active in the community, dedicating time and leadership to the Owatonna Rotary Club, along with co-leading the creation of a second club. He attended two international conventions as a delegate member and served in executive officer roles.

He engaged professionally in the Greater Mankato area, initially as the executive director of the Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation and then since 2007 as the president and CEO of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. In 2012, he was named the most influential regarding economic development. In 2014, the Greater Mankato Rotary Club awarded him its Service Above Self Award.

For more than five years he battled prostate and kidney cancer. In 2017, he and his wife along with engaged community leaders, established the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund to build community cancer awareness and support.

In the Mankato community, he 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.

He 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.

In 2017, he rekindled his love for photography and created J. Gordon Studios. He shot environmental photos in Iceland, Israel and five national parks during the last two years of his life.

He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Ginger; parents, John and Judy Zierdt; brother, Jeff Zierdt (Shelly); nephew, Aaron Zierdt; niece, Abby Wolf (Hunter); mother-in-law, Stella VanGrevenhof and goddaughter, Ashley Thompson.

He was preceded in death by his father-in-law, Glen VanGrevenhof.

A memorial service for him was held on Monday, April 1, at Hosanna Lutheran Church.

To share a memory of him and view his video tribute, visit

Memorials may be made in his name to the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Mankato Area Foundation.