Cover photo for Gerhart (Gary) Wilfred Gesell's Obituary
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1939 Gerhart 2023

Gerhart (Gary) Wilfred Gesell

October 18, 1939 — September 29, 2023

October 18, 1939 – September 29, 2023

83 Years

With love and deep sadness, we announce the passing of Gary.  We have found comfort over the past couple of days reflecting on his life, one that was built on service, sportsmanship and pride for his community.  Gary was a man you could count on, he was honest, someone always willing to help and someone who always, always showed up and got started early.  Was he the kind of man to give you a hug?  No, but he’d be there with a moment’s notice to build your deck.

Gary was born and raised, along with five siblings, on a farm in Oldenburg in the RM of Whitemouth, near the town of Whitemouth.  Alongside his family Gary worked the farm where he learned many of the disciplines and skills that served him later in life as he entered the workforce.  As a young man, Gary worked for the Department of Highways building and maintaining roads in the area.  He later worked in the peat moss industry in the summers and logging in the Kenora area during the winters.

In 1962 he married Rose (nee Machel) who was also born and raised in Whitemouth and together they raised three children; Darcy (Dean), Trevor (Melanie), and Sheldon (Joanne).  Gary built their family home with his father, uncle and other local people who lent a hand. 

Gary’s work with various construction companies on water and sewer projects took them to Beausejour, Dominion City and Winnipeg before returning to Whitemouth in 1970 when he was hired to work for the RM of Whitemouth.  Gary’s experience was what the RM was looking for as they were about to embark on a project to install the first sewer system for the town of Whitemouth.  His other work included maintaining roads and bridges, plowing snow, cutting grass and later in his career there he ultimately became the Public Works Foreman for the RM of Whitemouth.

Gary’s work was very important to him, and he took his responsibilities for building and maintaining the roads throughout the RM very seriously.  He had high expectations of himself and of those around him.  He knew every person who lived on every farm road, what the different delivery and road use schedules were in the area and depending on the day he knew which roads needed plowing first when the snow fell. On Sundays after Church, the Gesell’s could be found driving the back roads on their way to lunch in any of the neighboring Communities so that Gary could check on the roads.  A time or two Trevor and Sheldon might have found themselves left standing on one of those back roads while the family car drove away, but those are stories for another time.

Gary was a great Fastball player, he played for many teams in the area including the Whitemouth Frontiers.  He was known for his orthodox pitching with his long stride and would not just leave a line in the sand from the drag of his foot but also a line from the drag of his knuckle.  Opponents feared batting against him, and he would often be picked up by other teams in Winnipeg for tournaments.  His kids remember spending lots of time at ball diamonds and all the fun they had meeting and playing with other fastball kids.  Gary also played hockey and he loved watching sports on TV, especially wrestling and hockey when his Montreal Canadiens were playing.  He loved snowmobiling with his friends and spending time in camp.

Later, Gary spent years coaching the Fastball team(s) his boys played on.  He was a serious competitor and a tough coach but also understood it was a game and would be playful.  They did very well as a Team from such a small community, making it all the way to the Western Canadian Championships.  Gary also spent lots of time watching his kids play other sports in the area and across the province.

Gary spent lots of time camping and visiting with his family, especially as a group with his sisters and brothers-in-law.  Darcy, Trevor and Sheldon have many fond memories of campgrounds and other locations across the province, playing with their cousins, skating and tobogganing in the winters. There were a lot of “kids running wild” while the parents talked, played cards and enjoyed each other’s company.  They remember lots of fun and laughter (except when setting up the canvass pop-up trailer in the rain when there was a little cursing…).  In wanting to show his kids more of Canada, they made camping trips out east to Ottawa and west through Alberta and on to Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Gary was a great member of the community.  He spent 26 years on the Whitemouth Volunteer Fire Department and was also a founding member of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Whitemouth.  He spent many years on the Church council and volunteered as a Cemetery Caretaker.  For years Gary entered a Team in the Whitemouth August Long Weekend Ball Tournament called Gary’s Gophers. He enjoyed his time at the Whitemouth Diamond as a player, coach, volunteer, and fan over the years.  

Gary retired from the RM of Whitemouth in 2000 after 30 years of service then “relaxed” for an entire 3 months before signing on to work for Blaney Enterprises as a Heavy Machine Operator for another 22 years.  His dedication to his work, knowledge and excellent performance was well known and the office would often be told “send the old guy!”. 

In and amongst these years, Gary became a grandpa seven times to Sydney, Rowan, Sarah, Quinn, Davis, Gillian and Savannah.  Gary could often be found at their sporting events or in a campground with them. He also had 34 nieces and nephews, some of whom he was also their Godparent. 

In 2008, after 45 years of marriage, Gary’s beloved wife Rose passed away.  Gary is also predeceased by his parents, Hertha (nee Kohle) and Samuel Gesell and sisters Hildagard Maron, Irma Antaya and Edith (Elly) Machel.  Alfred Gesell and Linda Penner are Gary’s two remaining siblings.

In 2010, Gary married Inga (nee Ehm) after their friendship had grown into love.  Inga was a close friend to Rose for many years and by default also a friend of Gary’s.  At the time of Gary’s passing, he and Inga had been happily married for 13 years.

When reminiscing about the days when their relationship was evolving, Inga and her children Rodney (wife Chi, sons Teo and Brando), Amy (Calvin) and Sandra (daughter Hannah) recall Gary being kind, generous, open, and accepting of all of them.  They already knew by reputation that Gary was a good man but to experience his nature to give of himself without reservation to help others was unbelievable and they felt grateful to have him become part of their Family.

Gary continued to devote his time to working and his spare time to helping others with projects.  Time spent with Inga was working in the garden, caring for their dog (Daisy), building shelters to support Inga’s love of cats, and still driving those back roads.  Amy and Calvin would try their luck playing crib with them on weekends, but Gary would win 95% of the time… and he was so humble about it, right?  They shared a love of music and Gary loved listening to them sing and play. 

Gary had been in the care of the Grace and Beausejour Hospitals since February 2023.  The Family extends a warm and heartfelt thank you to all of the staff at these hospitals who cared for him.  We also appreciate all the visitors who took time to visit Gary while he was in the hospital, those were his sunniest days and as many staff, friends and family witnessed, Gary kept his quick wit right until the end.

Per Gary’s wishes, a private family graveside service has been scheduled.  In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Gary’s name to the Redeemer Lutheran Church (P.O. Box 277, Whitemouth, Manitoba R0E 2G0) or to the Whitemouth Fire Department (144 Railway Ave, Whitemouth, Manitoba R0E 2G0).

In closing, here are a couple of quotes overheard from Family in the last couple of days:

“He was a great Husband, so easy to be around.”

“He had great pride in Whitemouth and in being from there.” 

“I am proud to have been his son, to have earned his name.”

“Man, we cut a lot of grass.”

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