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Gary F. Gerken

Gary F. Gerken

August 25, 2021

Beloved Gary F. Gerken, 70, of Watertown passed away at the family cottage in the town of Orleans Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

Gary was born in Watertown on January 17, 1951, the oldest son of the late Frederick A. and Mary Herlehy Gerken, Jr. He was a 1970 graduate of Watertown High School and received his associates degree from JCC.

On May 5, 1979 he married Kathy L. Gerken in Watertown and she died June 12, 1992. Gary then married Karen E. Morley at Bonnie Castle Resort, Alexandria Bay on January 21, 1994.

Gary was the owner/partner of Dry Hill Ski Area and a ski instructor. He also owned and operated Poor Richard's, a local staple and a place for social gatherings of friends and family. He was currently the Athletic Director at Cape Vincent Correctional Facility.

He was a sports enthusiast, and extremely athletic. Gary was a former quarterback for the Red & Black and was inducted into the Red & Black Hall of Fame in 2017. Along with skiing, he enjoyed playing golf and was a Men's City Champion. Gary was a lover of the River and the family cottage in Fishers Landing. The family enjoyed vacations in Myrtle Beach every year.

Above all, Gary loved his family and he made it a point to show it with his whole heart. He spent his life, until his last minutes, making sure that all were taken care of - always putting the needs of others in front of his own. He will be remembered as a giver - concerned about everyone else's welfare, never asking for anything in return. His granddaughters were the shining light of his last years, having him wrapped around their fingers. Gary was one kind of a man - Pillar of the community, the life of any party he stepped foot in, he was kind to all, he loved deeply, and was generous beyond measure. Gary left a deep impression on the many lives he's touched throughout a life cut much too short. A patriarch of the family, Gary left an undisputed legacy that will live in our hearts forever, passed on from generation to generation.

Along with his wife, Karen, Gary is survived by his daugher, Kylie J. Gerken and fiance David Ratigliano, Adams; four sons, Travis J. Gerken and fiancee Fitore Hyseni, Syracuse, Shane M. Gerken and wife Marta Lopushanska, Baltimore, MD, Skylar M. Gerken and fiancee Rachel Harman, Baltimore, MD, and Chance M. Gerken, Liverpool; two granddaughters, Emilia and Sofia Gerken; brother David J. Gerken and wife Candi A., Watertown; two sisters, Teri G. Austin and husband Thomas, Cazenovia and Lanie M. Cahil, Watertown; half sister Patsy Farr and husband Bill, Fremont, OH; one aunt, Laura Herlehy, DE, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. Along with his parents, Gary was predeceased by his brother-in-law Jim T. Cahill, June 23, 2005.

A funeral mass will be celebrated on Monday, August 30, 2021, at Holy Family Church at 10 AM. A celebration of Gary's life will follow at Savory Downtown following the service. Arrangements are entrusted to Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Watertown and online condolences to his family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneral.com. In lieu of flowers, donations in Gary's name may be made to Save the River (savetheriver.org), or Walker Center for Cancer Care, 830 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601.


#34 Billie Griffin 2021-08-30 21:30
Ky and fam - I love you guys soooo much!!! I am so sorry to hear the news. I am beyond grateful to you guys for welcoming me into your home and always treating me like family while I was growing up. Gary was just the BEST!!! Please know that you are all in my thoughts & prayers and I'm ALWAYS here for you! XOXO
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#33 The Bychkov Family 2021-08-30 19:59
Karen and family....our sincere condolences for your loss! Though we only met once, you guys made such a striking impression, and we had a wonderful time together at the beach. Gary, may you Rest In Peace, you will be truly missed. We will fish together one day like we talked about doing at the beach....Elena and Max
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#32 Corey Fitzery 2021-08-30 14:35
My families thoughts and prayers are with Karen and the family and all friends of Gary. Gary will be missed, and we were so thankful we could have one last fire and visit with him. His spirit will live on at the River.
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#31 michael keck 2021-08-30 12:45
Karen, It saddens me that you have to deal with such a loss. Try to find those bright memories to hold on to, These can sustain you moving forward. The grace that you learn can be used by others. My best regards,
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#30 Mark and Cathy Craig 2021-08-30 12:11
Gary and his family have been close friends since our younger days on the ski slopes. Whether skiing, ski teaching or just socializing we always took the time to stop and catch up on shared concerns. Gary will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Sorry we were on able to make today’s services. Our prayers and condolences go out to all his family and friends and may Gary Rest In Peace.
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#29 Pete DICK 2021-08-30 11:17
Sad to hear about Gary’s passing. I will always remember the good times in school and at Poor Richards.
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#28 Joe Barry 2021-08-30 11:05
Sincerest Sympathies from a childhood friend...Great Guy ...Good memories!
Joe Barry
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#27 Dan and Dorn Ambrose 2021-08-30 10:19
To all of Gary's family and friends, We have lost a great and admired member of our community. So much respect and not enough time. Gary, rest in peace and know that your legacy will live on with those whose lives you have touched.
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#26 Eliot and Carmen 2021-08-30 08:15
Our hearts are broken. Gary was and always will be our “brother in love”. There are just no words to describe such a loss.
Our deepest and heartfelt sympathy goes out to Karen, Kylie, Travis, Shane, Skylar, Chance, David, Terri, Lanie and their families.
We pray you are singing with Angels and dancing among the stars Gerk. We shall meet again, who have loved each other. Who loves ya Gerk … “E” and Carm.
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#25 Sharon Herlehy 2021-08-29 18:37
Karen and Family
There are not sufficient words to express to you and your whole family our shared sorrow. So many wonderful memories of Gary sharing time with our family at our beloved River. We all loved Gary’s giving heart and warm laugh. Will always cherish nightly sunsets and bond fires. Sharing mutual family stories and laughter. I will always think of you and Gary as the “Pied Pipers”. Will hold our love for Gary and you in our hearts forever. Warm hugs, prayers and loving thoughts fir you and yours
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