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Mr. Gerber went to be with the Lord at the age of 78 on April 9, 2013. He passed in the Diamond Point home he had loved so much and which he had designed overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The cause of death was metastatic malignant melanoma.
He was born in Jackson, Michigan, but raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Wenatchee, Washington. He graduated from Wenatchee Valley College with an Associate of Arts in pre-architecture before entering the University of Washington. There, he pledged the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.
He married his sweetheart from Wenatchee, Jane Moore, while attending college. He also joined the Marine Corps Reserve during that time. A service-connected injury forced him to change majors, and he graduated with a degree in business administration. Upon graduation, he became a commissioned officer and went on active duty, leaving the Marine Corps in 1967, having attained the rank of captain.
As a civilian, Mr. Gerber worked in the insurance, investment, marketing and travel industries. He also spent several years as the executive director of the North Central Washington Supervised Skills nonprofit corporation in Wenatchee.
Under his leadership, the once-small and unsuccessful agency grew into one of the largest and most successful facilities of its kind in the state, employing 20 full- and part-time staff and serving 120 clients in three separate programs that provided rehabilitation services and vocational training to adult handicapped clients.
During his years with the citizen ambassador program of People to People International, he traveled extensively and organized conferences that enabled experts in various professions, from many different countries, to meet and exchange information and ideas. Three of his favorite destinations were China, Hong Kong and Russia.
He and Jane raised their two sons in Wenatchee. They divorced in 1977 but remained friends until her death in 1991.
He married Phyllis Kilmer in 1981. They lived in Spokane until 2004, when they retired to Diamond Point, an area just east of Sequim. He had always loved the ocean, lighthouses, forests and mountains. Sequim was close to all those things, and that fact was one of the main reasons he chose to retire there.
At various times in his life, he was a church elder, a committee chairman for the Boy Scouts, a Kiwanis Club president, a member of the School Board Advisory Committee and a Little League baseball coach. He was also an active member of the Christian Business Men's Connection and was a past chairman of the Spokane chapter.
He had loved hiking and fishing as a young man, but over the years, his health gradually deteriorated. Problems in his spine progressed and severely affected his mobility. Pain was his constant companion.
As he was no longer able to participate in more athletic activities, he changed course and spent his leisure time collecting miniature lighthouses and ship models, reading, doing crossword puzzles and was known for his especially green thumb. His house was filled with more than 60 beautiful houseplants that he lovingly nurtured. He enjoyed rescuing neglected plants and bringing them back into a healthy state.
He took great pleasure from watching the small boats, the ships, the constantly changing water conditions, the deer and the local birds. He particularly enjoyed keeping track of the bald eagles and a special seagull named Louie.
His favorite sports teams were the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Mariners.
He was very proud of his family and their accomplishments, especially enjoying visits as well as long phone conversations with his children. One of his favorite local activities was interacting with a group of men, mostly veterans, who would meet for coffee in Sequim once a week. They had a wonderful fellowship, supported each other, bragged about their children and tried to solve the world's problems.
He was a member of the Olympic Swiss Club and enjoyed exploring his Swiss heritage and hearing stories of the country in which his grandparents were born.
He is survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Phyllis; his two sons, Brad of Maple Valley, Washington, and Jeff of Everett, Washington; his three stepchildren, Scott of Pasco, Washington, and Dawn and David of Spokane; grandchildren Cody, Alyssa, Jraven, Mick and Vivianna; stepgrandchildren Cheyenne, Charlie and Christina; and stepgreat-grandchild, Matthias. He is also survived by his brother, Robert of Indian Wells, California; nephew Doug; and nieces Cris and Cindy.
Mr. Gerber requested that there be no formal funeral and that his ashes be scattered in the ocean. There will be a family celebration of life later this year.
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on June 23, 2013