GERALD “GERRY” SIMONSON
February 3, 1932 — April 23, 2021
Gerald “Gerry” Simonson died on April 23, 2021 at the age of 89 from complications of a broken hip and dementia.
Gerry was born February 3, 1932 in LaCrosse Wisconsin, to Odin and Rebecca (Kandal) Simonson. Gerry enjoyed a childhood of basketball, skiing, and model-T restoration with his seven siblings, all who were nourished by the tireless cooking of their mother, Rebecca, who as a lone child had prayed she’d one day have a large family. Gerry worked alongside his father at the family’s Badger Paint store during high school.
He earned a scholarship to St. Olaf college upon the recommendation of his pastor. Upon graduation he was commissioned in the United States Air Force and became a pilot. He would serve a total of 30 years as an active duty and reserve military officer, retiring in the rank of Colonel.
Shortly after graduation from college, he married Hollie VanAntwerp, who had cheered him on at Sparta High School basketball games. After flight training assignments in Arizona and Texas, Hollie and Gerry were stationed in Bangor, Maine where they welcomed the first of their four children, a daughter, Kristin.
After discharge from active duty, Gerry taught English at Brighton High School where he was named teacher of the year in 1958. With the arrival of sons Joe, Jay and Jordan, a teaching salary “no longer afforded even peanut butter” and Gerry found employment at Martin Marietta Aerospace as an editor of technical writing. Through hard work and long hours over a thirty year career, he would advance to Chief of Computer Engineering and work on projects such as the Mars Rover, and the Titan Project exploration of the moons of Saturn.
Among the first in his family to attend college, Gerry made sure that all four of his children were able to graduate from college as well. In 1977, Hollie and Gerry divorced after 25 years of marriage. He married Judy (Gerlach) in 1980 and they remained married for 34 years until Judy’s death from cancer in 2014.
In retirement, Gerry and Judy enjoyed giving generously to numerous charities and treating friends and family out to dinner. A former saxophone player in his high school jazz band, Gerry organized the Broadmoor Jazz Festival from 1996-2003. He also served as President for the Eisenhower Men’s Golf Club, the Mayhurst HOA, and the Silicon Mountain Users Group (SMUG) and cherished the good friends he made in all three organizations. Gerry and his children regularly attended the yearly family reunions in Wisconsin where they enjoyed the company of the 80+ family members in attendance each year.
He is preceded in death by brothers Robert, Leroy, and Eugene. Gerry was “Grandpa” to Kelly, Luke, Micah, Josie and Jennie, and “Uncle Gerry” to 22 nieces and nephews. He is survived by all of them as well as his four adult children, his sisters Mary (Don) and Ruth (Dean), and brothers Jim (Gini) and Knut (Judy), daughters-in-law Gina and Nui, and son-in-law John. All remember him as kind and generous throughout his accomplished life.