Vernon H. Gerhardt, age 66 of Baldwin, died peacefully Tuesday October 1st, 2019 at his residence following complications from a fall on the ice in March. Vern was born on May 4, 1953, in New Prague, Minnesota; the son of Arthur and Loretta (Groff) Gerhardt. He attended New Richmond and Hammond elementary schools prior to graduating from St. Croix Central High School in the class of 71’. On April 23, 1988, he was united in marriage to Sherry Walker at the First Reformed Church in Baldwin.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Vern went to work at Nor-Lake in Hudson, but he was a farm-kid at heart, so it wasn’t long before he bought his own dairy herd and began farming north of New Richmond on land he rented near the airport. About 1979-80, a mauling by a bull caused permanent injury to Vern’s back and changed his career course. Vern became a mechanic at Brown Equipment, the Massey Ferguson dealer in New Richmond. Opportunity later took him to Baldwin, where he worked at Triangle Equipment which was the Ford/New Holland dealership, and eventually, Vern became service manager at Meyer Implement, the John Deere dealership. Vern left Meyer Implement to try his hand at self-employment as a Snap-On Tool salesman, which he really enjoyed. Tools truly were his thing, and he loved building relationships with the mechanics and business owners on his route. He was a natural. He found, however, that he wasn’t such a natural at the bill collecting aspect, and he would wistfully comment that he needed a mafia cousin with a baseball bat who could do that portion of his job. So, Vern sold his Snap-On business and went to work for Albrightson Excavating. For the past 17 years, Vern has worked at County Materials in Roberts as a forklift operator.
Vern was a man of great integrity who cherished his family and friends. He was the “go to” guy when any of them needed something fixed or built. His tagline was “That won’t take long” as it gave him the greatest pleasure in giving a helping hand. Vern loved creating unique solutions for life’s everyday challenges, and sometimes for the not-so-everyday challenges. Local bears trying for a free meal at the bird feeders or dumpster have been foiled by Vern’s creations. Besides his talent as a mechanic, Vern was a skilled woodworker and welder.
Vern loved taking trips. He would often say, “With so many places to see, why would we want to go back to the same place twice?” Only the love of family and friends took him back to places he had already experienced, but those destinations were few. He went to Aruba more than once so friends could experience the “Happy Island” with him. He made multiple trips to Florida so his kids and grandkids could experience Disney World. And then, of course, there were the Canada fishing trips. For years, the conversation at every family gathering was dominated by stories from last year’s trip or plans for next year’s trip. Vern looked forward to Friday-night fish frys, big tubs of buttered popcorn at the movie theater, and deer hunting. But he mostly enjoyed the camaraderie with the guys over the traditional deer hunting breakfast or catching the football game with them in the afternoon. One of his greatest enjoyments was spending time at the cabin on Long Lake. He loved the leisurely pontoon ride, which could take hours, but he almost always appeased his passengers by making a stop at the ice-cream shop.
Vern will forever remain in the hearts of his wife, Sherry Walker; children Misty (Scott) Couch of New Richmond, Marty (Amy) Gerhardt of Neillsville, and Tristy (Jason) Hopp of Baldwin; grandchildren Brandt, Sarah, Dawson, Emily, Brady, Trey, and Jenika; siblings Judy Gerhardt (Lyle Nippoldt) of New Richmond, Al (Luanne) Gerhardt of Hammond, and Dale (Debbie) Gerhardt of New Richmond; sisters/brothers-in-law Vicki Gerhardt of Roberts, Robert (Annette) Walker of Roseville, Judy (David) Jessup of Scandia, Roger Walker of Baldwin, Patrick (Vivian) Walker of Hastings, and Todd (Susan) Walker of Baldwin, as well as a host of nieces and nephews. Vern’s parents Arthur and Loretta, his brothers Glenn and Don, and his parents-in-law Howard and Edna Walker precede him in death.
Funeral service for Vern will be 11AM, Saturday October 12th at Embrace Church, St. Croix Campus, 16600 7th St S, in Lakeland, MN. Burial will be in the Baldwin Cemetery. Visitation will be on Friday, October 11th from 4pm to 8pm at the O’Connell Family Funeral Home of Baldwin as well as one hour prior to the service at church on October 12th. Memorials preferred to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Long Lake Preservation Association, or Embrace Church. “I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in me (though he dies), yet shall he live!” Funeral services entrusted to the O’Connell Family Funeral Home of Baldwin.