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Obituary: Eric Frank Gerst

Eric Frank Gerst passed away on June 21, 2011 in Venice, FL, where he lived since 2001 after residing for many years in Port Washington. Born March 23, 1918 in Nuremberg, Germany, he attended textile school in Reutlingen. Due to the rise of the Nazi party and Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies, in 1937 he emigrated to the U.S. and worked in the textile industry at American Bemberg Corp. in Tennessee.

Determined to help his family escape Germany, Eric’s efforts enabled his father Ernst, mother Annie and sister Lizelot to find asylum in the states too. Grateful for the refuge given him and his family, he wrote a letter published by the New York Times in 1942 objecting to the Selective Service ruling preventing German refugees from serving in the U.S. Army and requesting the right to defend his new homeland. He was subsequently able to enlist and trained as a radio operator at Sioux Falls, SD, where he met and married Dawn Idarius of Chicago. Eric was then transferred to Camp Ritchie, MD, for intelligence training and was assigned in 1944 to the 63rd Infantry Division in Europe where he served in France and behind enemy lines in Germany until the end of the war, attaining the rank of master sergeant. Proud to have fought and also for being able to fit into his army uniform throughout his life, he would often wear the uniform on Veteran’s Day.

Settling in New York with Dawn, he joined the menswear division of Burlington Industries in 1949 and worked his way up the corporate ladder in managerial positions.

Eric was a loyal and generous husband, father and friend who will be deeply missed by the many whose lives he touched. He faithfully remembered birthdays and special occasions and kept in contact with a wide circle of friends. He never compromised his values and could always be counted on for help if anyone had a problem. A realist in his thinking but a romantic in his heart, he enjoyed classical music and good conversation and was an avid reader of history and the news.

He was married for 59 years to Dawn who predeceased him in 2002. He leaves behind son Jeffrey Gerst; daughters, Karen Gerst and Wendalyn Von Meyenfeldt; grandchildren, David and Holly Von Meyenfeldt; Daniel, Sophia and Nicholas Gerst; and long-time friend Susan Phipps.

Private services were held at the Sarasota National Cemetery and at Village on the Isle in Venice. Farley Funeral Home in Venice handled the arrangements.