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Louis Gardipee, 90, named 2nd honoree for Packer Fan HOF

Posted Mar 2, 2000

Ninety-year-old Louis Gardipee, who saw his first Packers game a half-century ago and will never forget it, has been named the second annual honoree for the Packers FAN Hall of Fame.

Gardipee, a resident of Black River Falls, Wis., emerged from a field of 10 finalists to join the late Mel Knoke  of Appleton, last year's initial inductee, in the Fan shrine.

Louie, as he is known in his home town, has been attending Packers games since the early '50s - the legendary 1967 "Ice Bowl" among them - and has found that his first such experience made a life-long impact upon him.

Gardipee, traveling 160 miles for that initial fall visit to Green Bay in 1952 with his wife, two sons and four season tickets, was dismayed upon arrival at old City Stadium (Lambeau Field did not become the Packers' home until 1957) to learn one of his season tickets had been lost.

Fortunately, there was a happy ending...two of them in fact. The four Gardipees did get into the stadium and the lost ticket subsequently was turned in and returned to Louie.

Since that time, out of continuing gratitude, Gardipee has built upon the kindness of the individual who turned the ticket in by sharing his season tickets and other tickets he acquires from his family. To date, his sharing has made it possible for more than 2,000 other individuals to see their first - and perhaps only - Packers game.

Mary I. Woods of Black River Falls, who nominated Gardipee for the FAN honor, noted in presenting him, "Among the individuals who have had this opportunity is 22-year-old Chris Cooley of Black River Falls. Diagnosed with a brain tumor a year ago, which resulted in his eyesight deteriorating, Chris wished to see a Packer game. Louie heard about this and gave Chris and his father tickets to the first 1999 season home game - Packers vs. Oakland. Today, Chris is legally blind. However, he will always be grateful to Louie for giving him the opportunity to see the Packers."

Through the years, Gardipee also has given tickets to the Black River Falls Lions Club for use in fund-raising raffles. They thus far have netted over $15,000, with proceeds going toward community projects, including scholarships.

Gardipee, appropriately, is the proud possessor of charter membership in the Packer Hall of Fame, purchased when the permanent Hall of Fame was erected in 1976, the year it was dedicated by President Gerald Ford.

In recognition of being selected to represent all fans as the Packers FAN Hall of Fame's second honorary fan, Gardipee will be saluted on the Lambeau Field JumboTron board during the first Packers home game of the 2000 season. He also will receive a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate and a road trip for two to a 2000 Packers away game (including tickets, air fare and hotel accommodations). In addition, he will attend and be recognized at the Packer Hall of Fame Induction Dinner in July and be permanently recognized in the Packer Hall of Fame.

In the election process, Packers fans were asked to vote on the top ten finalists - chosen by the Packers FAN Hall of Fame selection committee - whose stories best represented all Packers fans. Gardipee received approximately 25 percent of the total votes cast.

Finalists, in addition to Gardipee, included Alex Carmichael, Carol City, Fla.; Pat Connors, New Lisbon, Wis.; Bea Froelich, Green Bay; Michael Gourlie and John O'Neill, both of Madison; J. Fred Morrison, Rockford, Ill.; Ken Rammer, Appleton; Walter Riley, Jr., Sparta, Wis.; and Father Carl Steiner, Oconto Falls, Wis. O'Neill also was a finalist in last year's election.

The Packers FAN Hall of Fame has been established by the Green Bay Packers and the Packer Hall of Fame and is exclusively sponsored by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Shopko Stores, Stein Gardens and Gifts and Power Now from Wisconsin Gas.

 
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