April 1, 1941 – March 6, 2019
Born in Fowler, KS
Resided in Lincoln, NE
Jay Dean Gerber
Jay D. Gerber, 77, passed away March 6, 2019 in Lincoln, NE. The son of Carl and Dorothy (Steinke) Gerber, he grew up in Fowler, a small town in Southwest KS. Jay was born with spine and hand deformities that required numerous surgeries and painful stretching therapy, but he remembered most, the pre-dawn trips with his dad to doctors in Wichita, singing along with Colorado Pete and Millie and Sue on the radio. A childhood highlight was seeing Colorado Pete and Millie and Sue perform live, three nights in a row, at the Meade County Auditorium. Though he couldn’t play on high school sports teams, Jay was active as a team manager, developing excellent reflexes that later made him a ping pong master and formidable opponent in tennis, racquetball, basketball and more. Soft spoken and shy around girls, his Lenten resolution in college was to ask one girl out every week. Though reserved, he taught and inspired others through his actions. Jay earned his undergraduate science degrees from Benedictine College, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas, and completed post-doctoral work in immunology at Stanford University.
For his doctoral thesis, Jay collected bats in the caves of Guatemala. As chief of the Center for Disease Control in Kansas City, Jay researched how humans in Iowa contracted histoplasmosis from birds. As a research scientist for more than 25 years with Pfizer Animal Health, Jay earned numerous patents while developing vaccines for animals, including one to prevent feline leukemia in cats. In retirement, Jay wrote his poetic memoirs with the help of Nebraska State Poet Laureate Bill Kloefkorn – proud to be Bill’s last student. Jay developed painting skills, selling his work from several Midwest galleries. Jay loved learning about other people and cultures, visiting more than 50 countries including the Galápagos Islands and Antarctica. Jay loved a broad range of music from opera to country western and enjoyed playing violin, guitar, drums, hammered dulcimer and harmonica, never forgetting the comfort but hard life songs of cowboys.
Jay was preceded in death by his youngest brother Jon and is survived by his spouse of 49 years, Ruth (Wenzl); two children, Nathan (Alyson) and Katie; two grandchildren; siblings Jerry (Elaine) Gerber, Carla Gerber (Mike) Bartlett, Sharon Gerber (Mike-deceased) Moran; and a host of delightful nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.
Throughout his life and through his 15 year’s with Parkinson’s disease, Jay credited good times with family and friends as the greatest motivation and pleasures of his life. He was easy to love.
A memorial service will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, March 11, at First Plymouth Church, 2000 D Street, Lincoln, NE 68502. A reception celebration will be hosted from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at The Burkholder Project Gallery, 719 P Street, Lincoln, NE 68502, where Jay’s art is displayed.
If desired, memorials may be made to the Jay D. Gerber Scholarship Fund, Community Foundation for Southwest Kansas, 208 W Wyatt Earp Blvd #200, Dodge City, KS 67801 or to Parkinson’s Nebraska designated for the Lincoln Parkinson’s Support Group Endowment (LPSGE): Parkinson’s Nebraska, 16811 Burdette Street, Suite One, Omaha, NE 68116 or donate online, www.ParkinsonsNebraska.org/donate (please note “Gerber Memorial” with donation).
Condolences online at Roperandsons.com/obituaries.
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