Frank W. Gerke, 80, of Grand Rapids, passed away suddenly over the
weekend, encircled by nearly 40 members of his family, including his wife
Catherine Ann (McGovern) of 57 years, his eight children, numerous in-laws, 33 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. His legacy and life were rich and wonderful. The oldest of 10 children, Frank became a proud Marine when he lied about his age in order to serve in the Korean War. His loyal service continued on for 38 years in the National Guard, attaining the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4 with the 3rd Battalion, 126th Infantry. He served active duty assignments during the Detroit riots and was called back into active service during Operation Desert Storm at the age of 59, assisting families that had loved ones overseas. Frank attended West Catholic High School, and later Davenport College and Michigan State University while raising a busy family and working at Lear Siegler and the Defense Supply Agency. He retired from The Department of Defense as a level 14 after 31 years as Contract Management Division Chief. In addition, he served on the Board of Directors of the Fed Com Credit union for 30 years. His greatest legacy however, remains forever cherished in the hearts of his family – a man of uncompressing integrity, steadfast loyalty, unwavering faith, gentle guidance and constant devotion to this large and ever-growing family. His love for them was endless and unconditional. No one will ever forget his brilliant smile, contagious laughter, boyish giggles when tickled, his warm, wonderful great big bear hugs or his beautiful signing. Our precious memories live on in the many years of our cottage time on Big Star Lake in Baldwin where cookouts, bonfires, golf cart rides, pancake breakfasts and trips to Bozo’s ice cream were always on his agenda. Frank was a founding member of the Peacock Hunters Association where his numerous service medals in marksmanship and riflery, including designation as one of the Governor’s 20, rarely came in use. He now joins some of the greatest hunters in the world; Weiner, John, Doc and Jim Bo in the heavenly hunting grounds! He joins in his heavenly reward with his parents, Frank C. and Isabelle (Hall) Gerke; his brothers, Bernard, Terrance, Philip and Michael; and his grandsons, Brent Schiefler and Dalton Gerke. He will be forever missed by his beloved wife, Catherine Ann; his children, Kathleen (Roger) Schiefler, Michael Gerke, Diane (Robert) Cammenga, Daniel Gerke, Gary (Ramona) Gerke, Karen (John) Roark, Maureen Gerke, and Matthew (Wendy) Gerke. He is also survived by his siblings; Barb Bowler, Elizabeth (Karl) Peterson, Timothy (Beverly) Gerke, Margaret (Thomas) Fisher, Patricia (Douglas) Breker; and many nieces and nephews. Although a lifelong member of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Kentwood, his Mass of Christian Burial will be at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 1935 Plymouth SE, Rev. Godfrey Onyekwere, officiating, on Monday, July 30, 2012 at 11:00 AM. Those wishing to pay their respects may do so at 10:00 a.m. at church. Visitation will be held Sunday, July 29, from 1-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the O’Brien-Eggebeen-Gerst Chapel, 3980 Cascade Rd. SE with a rosary at 8:00 p.m. Interment St. Sebastian Cemetery, Byron Center. Memorial donations may be made to the St. Mary Magdalene’s Fire Restoration Fund, 1213 52nd St. SE., Kentwood, MI 49508-4801.