Harvey S. Gerry '53

Deceased May 14, 2014

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50th Reunion Book Entry


In Memory

Harve Gerry, perhaps the best-known and best-liked member of our class, passed away peacefully May 14, 2014, at his home in North Yarmouth, Maine, from advanced prostate cancer. He was in no pain and quite lucid until near the end.

Harve was my roommate for two years at the Chi Psi house and also an original member of the Zumbyes, the a capella singing group founded by Sandy Strait ’53 and still singing at the college today. He continued to sing in various groups and choirs throughout his life.

After U.S. Navy OCS and active duty in the Atlantic fleet, Harve completed Harvard Business School and joined Corning Glass in Corning N.Y., later shifting to another executive position at Northern Trust Co. in the Chicago area. Ultimately, he and his wife, Sue Woodbury Gerry, who met and fell in love when she was a student at Mt. Holyoke and married in Paris in 1955, retired to Maine, where Sue had deep roots. Myron Hamer ’53 and Mike Palmer ’53 warmly welcomed them to their nucleus of ’53 Class Maineiacs.

Harve was kind, understanding and compassionate; he gave of himself in so many ways. He and Sue had three children and eight grandchildren, for whom Harve and Sue became wonderful role models. They were fortunate to have had them both in their lives for a long time—but I suspect they feel not long enough. Those of us who knew and loved Harve were touched forever by him, and will never forget his many kindnesses to us and to others.

Anyone who meets just one “Harve Gerry” in their lives will be indeed fortunate.             

We’ll miss you, Harve.

Reid Spencer ’53

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50th Reunion

53 Harvey Gerry 2.jpg When working reunion weekends before we graduated, I went class to class to find out when people stopped being young like us, and switched to old, like my parents for example.

50-year alums seemed venerable then.  Today, I resist this "term," as it might be "defined."  I'm grateful for what I've experienced and learned in the last 50 years, but I prefer to hope this isn't the end of it and that the best or at least a lot more experience and learning lie ahead.

After Amherst: Navy 2 years, married Sue Woodbury (Mt. Holyoke '53), 2 more Navy years, MBA at Harvard, 10 years at Corning Glass, 20 years in Chicago (mostly banking) and the last 14  (great) years in  Maine where, after an MS in  counseling, I worked for agencies helping injured workers and veterans find work and, later, assisting individuals with various disabilities to live independently. While often depressing, these activities provided examples of courage, humor under duress, resourcefulness and zest for life  that are joyous and profoundly inspiring.

I feel extremely lucky to be retired and to have made it here to Maine. It's a lively, beautiful place, at least in summer and fall. There are 5 of us from '53 here, a short drive from LL Bean, ie.  Palmer, Chaplin, Sayres, Gerry and Hamer. Myron and I share garden space; Myron produces the bumper crops.

Sue and I fixed up an old farmhouse/barn in an area verging on rural. Lots to do to keep it up. We have 3 children and 7 grandchildren and devote considerable time to nearby grandsons who struggle with learning disabilities, still an area of vexing mysteries.

There are many things about Amherst I remember with joy and thanks, friendships being the most intense. I realize this increasingly since attending our last two reunions and appreciate the remarkable work classmates, particularly Vic Mahler, have contributed to our class. Our "new curriculum'" pulled us into areas we might never have appreciated. If not providing all the answers, it certainly confronted us with questions still vital to ponder. For example, if I remember correctly (there's a problem): from Humanities, reading satirical Candide- "All is for the best in the best of worlds!??;" American studies sophomore  year- how best deliver health services? - and of course English 1   - You are on an island with one other individual. He wears a turban. He scowls. What type of communication and terms will you use? Define your terms. How will you know you have communicated effectively? Finally, I remember many inspiring teachers who provided honest criticisms and encouragement. My most cherished mementoes include papers, returned by Barber or Brower for example, with lengthy comments in the margins. I am full of admiration for teachers and educators which include classmates, my wife, and our two sons.

Jim Ahearn’s request for a letter catches me in a good mood, with many blessings I can count. I feel lucky. I’m grateful I went to Amherst – in the great class of 53; I’m grateful for wonderful friends and family; I’m grateful that neither I nor my children were born in Kabul or Gaza or other pained areas; and I look forward, oh venerable class mates, to our 50th reunion.

53 Harvey Gerry 1.jpg

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