Louis “Lou” Gerarden, 96, of Appleton, WI, passed away Saturday, February 27, 2021, at home with loved ones. His strong desire to spend time with his loving wife, Sally, empowered him to live a long, beautiful life. One kiss from Sally lit up his face and the whole room.
Lou was born July 8, 1924, to Patrick and Henrietta (DeBruin) Gerarden in Little Chute. Lou had a unique upbringing on the Fox River where his father was a Lock Tender of Fox River Lock #4 below the College Avenue Bridge in Appleton. His father taught him how to swim by lowering him down about ten feet into the lock in a tube tied to a long rope.
At the age of 15, the family moved to Marinette following the loss of his father. His mother bought a grocery store with her sister. Lou graduated from Marinette High School and attended Marinette Technical School. Lou served in the Merchant Marine as a Junior Officer where he traveled the world on a ship. Following that, he served as a cook in the Army during the Korean War.
In 1952, while stationed at Fort McCoy, Lou met his lovely wife, Margaret “Sally” Richardson, at an American Legion dance in La Crosse, WI. They were married on June 12, 1954 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in La Crosse. They were married for 66 years, had twelve children, and settled down in Appleton.
He worked at Bergstrom Glatfelter Paper Mill. He bought a brand new light green 1950 Ford Custom car. One of his most rewarding jobs was working as a cook for the Outagamie Mental Health Hospital now known as Brewster Village.
Lou was hired in 1961 by the City of Appleton Fire Department and worked as a firefighter for 27 years. He lived a life of service and will continue to be an inspiration from his heavenly home. Lou had a strong desire to raise his family in the country, so they moved to Mackville in the early 1970’s. Lou helped paved the way by changing the residency requirements. The union fought the city and won when he moved from Appleton to Mackville. He always lived by principles and would fight for what he believed in. He had a goat and chickens as a child and wanted his children to experience the joy of growing up on a small farm.
Lou was a humble and kind person. He lived by the motto “Do not judge another until you walk in their shoes.” He was devoted to his faith and gathered all of us children in the living room to say the rosary together in the evenings. Lou and Sally said the rosary daily for most of their lives.
Lou is survived by his beautiful wife, Sally Gerarden, and their twelve children: Mary (Mike) Garvey, Rose (Tom) Ahrens, Dan Gerarden, Tom (Bobbie) Gerarden, Tony (Dorothy) Gerarden, Ann Kelly, Dave (Sarah) Gerarden, James Gerarden, Barb (Laurie) Gerarden, Shelly (Eugene) Klister, Jeff Gerarden, Mike (Nichole) Gerarden, and Terri (Keith) Smith, and over 30 grandchildren and great grandchildren. Lou is survived by his nephews, nieces, other relatives and friends.
He was proceeded in death by his parents, Patrick and Henrietta Gerarden, and mother-in-law and father-in-law, Margaret and Benjamin Richardson. His brothers and sisters: Mary (Stegert) Gerarden, Anthony Gerarden, Theodore Gerarden, Florence (Heinritz) Gerarden, two half brothers, Jack and Vincent Jansen, and his great granddaughter, Georgia Frewerd.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to all the medical providers, wonderful caregivers, and hospice workers for their tender loving care.
Brettschneider Trettin-Nickel Funeral Home coordinated the celebration of life all being held at Sacred Heart, 222 E. Fremont St. Appleton with visitation from 9:00 – 11:00 am, service at 11:00 am on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Livestream of the service is available https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/41362900 Fr. John Katamba will be officiating. Military honors will immediately follow. Interment will take place at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Appleton. Due to COVID-19, there will be no luncheon following the service. In lieu of flowers a memorial has been established.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Louis "Lou" Bernard Gerarden, please visit our floral store.