Richard Albert Gersch
Richard was born February 21, 1924 in St. Cloud, Minnesota to Florence and Albert Gersch. He had one sister named Marilyn.
Richards grandparents were from Germany and his granddad played the accordion to pay their way to the U.S. His parents divorced when he was very young. The world was in a depression and his Mom could not financially care for Richard and his sister, so they went to live with their Aunt and Uncle on their father’s side in Illinois. Richard and Marilyn were never separated and were very close. Even though it was a depression they ate pretty well-a lot of oatmeal with canned milk!
In 1936, Richard and Marilyn rode the train from Bemidji, Minnesota to Chicago and went thru the World’s Fair and were reunited with their Mother and step father Adolph Groskreutz.
Richards highest level of education was the 8th grade.
In 1941 at the age of 16, Richard worked for the CCC, Civilian Conservation Core. You could not be married or own a car to be in the CCC as you would be considered too wealthy. He made $30 a month and sent $25 of it back home. At age 18, he rode the freight train to North Dakota and worked harvest one season before being drafted.
Richard was drafted in the Army on June 10, 1943 from Eagle, CO. He fought the Japanese from one end of the Pacific to the other. He faced that landing craft ramp 8 times listening to the bullets ricochet off the steel. He was so scared, that breathing was a conscious effort, but he found the courage that most will never have to summon. He helped capture the islands of Guam, Leyte, Mendora, IE Shima, Tokashiki, Hokaji, Geruma and Okinawa. Richard was part of the Joint Assault Signal Company. He earned 3 stars, 1 from each Island group that they took from the Japanese. Richard also received an “arrowhead” for an amphibious assault landing on an island. On December 29, 1945 Richard was honorably discharged.
*An interesting sidenote from his great Granddaughter Courtney - Out of all of Papas children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and (his only great great grandchild who is too young) I was the only one who not only joined the Army, but was interestingly enough stationed at Fort Lee which was called Camp Lee when Papa was stationed there.
Richard worked in Red Cliff Colorado delivering coal and hauling mine timbers. He then went to work on Granby Dam, then hitchhiked to Colorado Springs. While hitchhiking, he stopped at a gas station and to his surprise, there was his Mom and sister! Richard got a job in Colorado Springs on a crusher and saved up enough money to buy his own dump truck.
Richard met the love of his life, Shirley Joyce Stewart in May 1952. After a short courtship of 2 months they were married on July 14, 1952 in Gunnison Colorado by the Justice of the Peace. They then traveled to Greely Colorado to meet his parents Florence and Adolph. In 1954, Richard and Shirley moved to Hot Sulphur Springs where Richard went to work for the Colorado State Highway Department, now known as CDOT. They then moved to Cortez, and in May they welcomed their first child Richard Allen (Rick). Two years later a daughter was born, Lois Marlayne (Marty). A couple years later, the family packed up and moved to Ignacio, Colorado where they welcomed another son, David Eugene (Danny). From Ignacio a couple more moves were made, the final one to Dove Creek, Colorado in 1964. Working for the State Highway Department, Richard maintained what used to be highway 80, now highway 141 down Slick Rock Hill and into Disappointment Valley. He was very dedicated to his job, making sure pot holes were filled, trash picked up, and when the snowflakes began to fall, the roads were plowed and sanded.
As a family we enjoyed going to Lake Powell often. We all loved Lake Powell and there were times we went almost every weekend. Mom would pack the camper on Friday, we would pull out of Dove Creek at 4:45pm sharp, and off to the lake! Back then, it took at least 8 hours to get there traveling on a red dirt road, 150 miles of it…oh the “red dirt” would be in/on everything!!! We usually arrived around midnight, got to bed and then up early ready to play all day. We would ski, swim, fish and just cruise up different canyons. Dads favorite canyon for fishing was “Forgotten Canyon.” Back then you really had to want to go to the lake because you had to “rough it!” No fancy campgrounds with full hookups, not a paved boat ramp,(you just found the best way backing over rocks and boulders very carefully to the waters edge, and then it was usually a drop off to launch), not even a floating marina! Those were the Good Ole’ Days!
Richard continued working for the Colorado State Highway Department until his retirement in May 1984. After his retirement, Richard and Shirley enjoyed many years of working and playing at Halls Crossing on Lake Powell. They also spent over 30 years being snowbirds down in Yuma Arizona where they lived at the Caravan Oasis RV Park. It wasn’t until they went to Yuma that Richard learned how to dance, and by golly he loved it! Shirley and others taught him how to dance the polka, the schottische, and the rumba just to name a few.
In July 2020 Richard and Shirley celebrated 68 amazing years of marriage.
Richard enjoyed spending time with his family just visiting, listening to music on the TV, and his eyes would light up when anyone would stop by just to say Hi. He will be greatly missed by his family and all who knew and worked with him.
Richard is survived by his wife, Shirley; his three children, Rick(Cindy), Marty(Robert), Danny(Kim); five grandchildren, Amie(Jason), Jerod(Tasha), Danielle(Trint), Angela(Justin), Keri(Bobby); and also 13 great grandchildren, Kambrie, Taygen, Kayleigh, Jarel, Tessa, Courtney, Dancey, Riley, RayLee, Stormie, Jay, Cole, Carson; and one great-great granddaughter, Angel.
Richard is preceded in death by his great grandson Alec Richard Taber who was waiting with a big hug and a huge smile asking “what took you so long, Papa?”
Memorial contributions can be made in Richard’s name to the Troy Young VFW Post 5181, Box 428, Dove Creek, CO 81324.
To you Dad from your daughter, I’m going to miss opening the door saying “Hi Dad” and hearing “Hi Muff”… just one more time.
Your family loves you.
A viewing was held for Dove Creek resident Richard Albert Gersch from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at Ertel Memorial Chapel. Richard will be cremated and placed at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Grand Junction, CO. A Celebration of Life will be held next summer at Lake Powell to scatter his ashes in Forgotten Canyon…one of his favorite places!