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Charles Christopher Gerhards

November 22, 1930 - November 04, 2022


Obituary For Charles Christopher Gerhards

Charles Christopher Michael Gerhards was born November 22, 1930, to Matthias Christopher and Margaret Fritschen Gerhards in Loring, Kansas. He was third in line of eight children. During the depression his family moved from the potato farm in Loring to Portland, Oregon. Charles worked with his father as a carpenter during school years, graduated from Portland University with an engineering degree. He worked for General Electric in Idaho Falls, Idaho working on the nuclear airplane project proposed by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was during this time that he met Joan Marie Ann Miller, a teacher and his future wife of sixty-four years. With the cessation of his job due to nuclear program cutbacks, the opportunity came to work with Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. He spent his remaining career in wood research developing testing of wood load duration. Some of his research papers have been used worldwide. He was awarded the first and third ‘Markquart’ Awards for his research.

At age fifty-five, he took advantage of an ‘early out’ to retire. As the years of retirement progressed, he found enjoyment and creativity in wood working projects, hiking with his friend John Zerbe, golfing with son Rich, exploring the world through avid reading, family camping trips, and genealogy research. He enjoyed biking and jogging winning a trophy for his age group, running a full marathon. Always there were gardens that produced an abundance of fruits and vegetables. There were several years he volunteered at Donald Park near Mt. Vernon. His care for mother earth was fulfilling as he envisioned the park being preserved and used by others for various activities.

He is survived by his wife, Joan; five children, Daniel, James, Matthew, Teresa, and Richard; 10 grandchildren, Carl, Jason, Valerie, Kevin, Charles Jr, Jason, Jenna, Nathan, Benjamin, Aaron, Anna, and Julia; 6 great- grandchildren, Joseph, Stella, Jayden, Emma, Rory, and Isabella.

Charles’ body will be cremated, and his remains will eventually be buried with his wife Joan.
To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:

Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
Verona Chapel
220 Enterprise Drive

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  • 11/13/2022

    love you grandpa and will always miss you. wish i had spent more time with you.

  • 11/11/2022

    Joan and Family, Ruth and I are saddened to hear of the passing of Charles. I still remember his call to me in May of 1999 telling me he was married to the granddaughter of Bernard Croken, a great uncle I had been looking for since 1975. It meant redoing eight generations of family history, including the index to meet a publishing deadline of June 14 but I was so thankful to get all the information. We enjoyed their subsequent visit to Prince Edward Island and our get-together in Frankenmuth, Michigan. He was a great guy and we are richer for having met him and Joan. Our sincere condolences and prayers are sent to the you Joan and the family. Hugs. Rudy and Ruth Croken, Kensington, PEI.

  • 11/10/2022

    Joan, Chuck will be greatly missed. He was such a good friend. He was the one that got Dave involved in Donald Park. Will there be a service?

  • 11/10/2022

  • 11/09/2022

    I'm so sorry Joan, to hear of Charles's death. You certainly had a special relationship. Your family and your wonderful memories will help guide you through your grief. Pat Johnson, a friend from MATC

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