Published: May 16, 2021

IN MEMORIAM: Gary Gonder, Missouri Lottery

Story Photo

Gary Gonder

August 20, 1958 - May 14, 2021


Gary J. Gonder, age 62, of Jefferson City, Mo. passed away peacefully Friday, May 14, 2021 at his home surrounded by family after a brief illness.

Visitation will be held at First Christian Church from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

Funeral services will be conducted at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at First Christian Church with the Reverend Sarah Kingsbery officiating. Graveside services and interment will be held at Riverview Cemetery.

A webcast of Gary’s service will begin at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday for friends that are not able to attend by going First Christian’s Church’s Facebook page at

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to First Christian Church, 327 E. Capitol Avenue, Jefferson City, Mo. 65101.

Gary’s full obituary will be posted to this memorial page on Monday and published in Tuesday’s News Tribune. Funeral arrangements are under the care of Freeman Mortuary.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Gary J. Gonder please visit our Tribute Store.

This site will be updated as further information is posted
PGRI was honored to present the Major Peter J. O’Connell Lifetime Achievement Award to Gary in 2018.   Gary Gonder was truly a friend to so many people.  Gary was loved for his wonderful humour and fun, he was respected for his insight and intelligence, and he will be profoundly missed by all of us

Missouri Lottery Employee Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award
April 3, 2018
Gary Gonder, a 27-year veteran of the Missouri Lottery, received the Major Peter J. O’Connell Lifetime Achievement Award at the PGRI SMART-Tech Conference on March 28. This award, named after the first director of the Rhode Island Lottery, honors lottery industry executives who have distinguished themselves by making important contributions to their lottery and the lottery industry during a long length of time.

“Gary has definitely served the Missouri Lottery and the entire lottery industry with distinction,” said May Scheve Reardon, executive director for the Missouri Lottery. “Not only does he have a truly comprehensive knowledge of the industry and how it’s progressed over the years, but he also has kept Missouri at the forefront of lottery industry achievements and innovation.”

A resident of Jefferson City, Gonder has served the Missouri Lottery in various executive roles, including Chief Branding Officer; Chief Operating Officer; Communications Director; and Interim Executive Director. During his tenure, he was part of a team of dedicated employees who increased Lottery sales and profits from $220 million and $66 million, to $1.2 billion and $310 million, respectively, while reducing the operating percentage from 12 percent to 4.5 percent.

Gonder helped introduce many Lottery innovations, including founding the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling (an industry first), which combined public, private and non-profit organizations and their resources to address education, prevention and treatment of problem gamblers in Missouri. He also co-produced more than 300 episodes of a weekly, award-winning 30-minute “Fun & Fortune” Game Show; he converted the Lottery’s mechanical draw system to computerized draws; and he helped introduce the first My Lottery player’s loyalty program and mobile app.

Active in the industry, Gonder has served on numerous panels and committees, including the MUSL Powerball Automated Draws and Game Show Evaluation committees, and the Product Development subcommittee, as well as NASPL’s Continuing Education and Responsible Gaming committees. He helped the Missouri Lottery host several NASPL events and has actively presented at numerous NASPL, WLA, PGRI and La Fleur’s conferences on a wide variety of topics.
Gonder holds bachelor’s degrees in advertising and photojournalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri’s College of Business and Public Administration. Gonder is a graduate of NASPL’s first Lottery Futures College and the BC Lottery’s Erehwon Case Studies Program. He is also a NASPL Powers Award recipient.

Gonder hopes his legacy at the Missouri Lottery will be having led employees and stakeholders to discover the power of living the “why” – raising funds for public education – in the Lottery’s purpose. After retiring in November 2016, Gonder continues to assist the Missouri Lottery with strategic planning and special projects.

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