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John Gerber

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GERBER, John Of Quincy, MA passed away suddenly on June 12, 2010, after a year-long valiant fight against pancreatic cancer. He was born in Sioux Falls, SD on February 12, 1945 and grew up in Stillwater, OK and Menomonie, WI. John received academic degrees from the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, where he received his PhD in History under the direction of well known Professor of History, Harvey Goldberg. Among John's scholarly writings, published in several languages, is his definitive biographical history of the early 20th century Dutch astronomer Anton Pannekoek, and the intellectual role he played in the European social reform movements of that era; (Anton Pannekoek and The Socialism Of Workers' Self Emancipation 1873-1960). He subsequently received his MLS degree from Simmons College, and after serving as an archivist at Harvard Law School, became a medical librarian at VA Boston Healthcare System at the West Roxbury VA, and then acted as the primary librarian for the Boston Healthcare System from 2009 until his death. He was a valued VA employee for many years and will be very much missed by his VA Library Network colleagues. John's real passion in life was traveling the world's continents on motor scooters and promoting travel on the machines that he loved. In 1971, he completed a 25,000 mile solo trip on his Vespa motor scooter from the US to the southernmost tip of South America at Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. He was, by many accounts, the world's foremost historian on the development, manufacture and spread of motor scooters as a practical means of everyday and leisure transportation. His many research articles and travel accounts were published internationally and he served as the historian of the Vespa Club of America. This year, he was honored at the national AmeriVespa rally in San Antonio, TX with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his many contributions to the organization. John was the devoted father of James Gerber of Brookline, MA and beloved brother of Joseph Gerber (Menomonie, WI), Robert Gerber (Madison, WI), Gwen Gerber (Missoula, MT) and Claire (Gerber) Kalina (Endeavor, WI). He is also survived by his nieces and nephews; Steven, Elena, Brenden, Ethan, and Amber. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Millie Gerber. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his wake on Saturday, July 10, 2010 from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at the Robert J. Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home, 1803 Centre St. WEST ROXBURY. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in John's memory to the American Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Network (PANCAN) by calling 877-272-6226 (toll free) and ask for Donor Relations or by mail to, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245 or on their website: http://www.pancan.org/section_donate/ways_to_give/index.php. Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home 617-323-5600

Published in The Boston Globe on July 8, 2010
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