Gerald was my father-in-law. He passed away on September 3 at age 83 in South Africa. The loss is immense, especially after my own Dad’s recent passing. Greg and I were close to our Dads, and our hearts are very heavy.
I met Gerald shortly after meeting Greg in 1987, so I’ve known him for 34 years. Like his incredible wife Tuppy, Gerald was a big part of my life. He and Tuppy were generous, down-to-earth people who taught me a lot about being a better human being. I couldn’t have hoped for more wonderful parents-in-law.
A statuesque man who stood 6 feet 4 and a half inches tall, Gerald looked a bit like Cary Grant. Dapper, elegant, smiley, and with a zest for life. Almost always in good spirits, he was positive and laughed a lot. He was popular with Greg’s childhood friends, who called him Uncle Gerry, and showed their fondness for him throughout their lives.
His personality matched his bold presence. He was the most extroverted man I have known. Very friendly, sociable, and warm. And gifted when it came to connecting with strangers. I met Gerald for the very first time when we went out for pizza on Greg’s birthday, and was warmly welcomed right away. He smiled his big smile and said, “Hello, Angélique! You can sit right here, next to me!” What a nice man, I thought. And the impression stuck.
A great listener, Gerald was always interested in what you were doing, and remembered the smallest details. If you shared a challenge with him, he would absorb every detail and try to help you to figure it out.
Together, Tuppy and Gerald made a formidable entrepreneurial team. He was adventurous at heart, and followed the fire in his belly. He was also street smart, very hard-working, and an outstanding salesperson. They complemented one and other and got stuff done, in good times and in bad. They would bravely buy businesses and fix them up, or successfully start new ventures from scratch. Gutsy, tenacious and very organized. Everything was always as neat as a pin.
Gerald had a vivid imagination that enriched his life. He was a self-taught artist who painted beautifully, and he was an excellent dancer. When he took wife Tuppy by the hand and twirled her around, people stepped back and marvelled at the couple’s chemistry. They completely out-danced us at our wedding. He was also an accomplished lawn bowler, and in recent years was president of his bowling club.
Gerald was a foodie, who liked seafood in all its forms, loved flavoured nuts, and savoured a simple piece of bread with special cheese. The smellier the cheese, the better. And always with lots of butter. He savoured every bite, and was a dainty eater. We spoke a lot about food, watched the cooking channel together, and had enormous fun planning restaurant outings. One of his favourite things to eat in Seattle was a hearty clam chowder, and he loved helping himself to the somewhat extensive cheese selection in our fridge. Greg and I would meticulously plan his meals when he visited, because he enjoyed it so much.
What I loved about Gerald most was his love for dogs. My fondest memories of him are when he would get down on the ground and play with our doggies. Seeing a giant man play with tiny Yorkies is absolutely magical, and touched my heart every time.
My late Dad and Gerald were friends. It was fun to see them knock back a few beers, laugh, and hear their views on life. They got louder and funnier with each beer, and laughed at the silliest things. In 2006, Greg and I took Gerald, Tuppy and my Dad on a trip to Hong Kong, and had an absolute ball together. It was one of our favourite holidays, and we hold the memories close to our hearts.
Gerald, may you rest in peace with Tuppy. You raised my favourite person in the world, for which I am enormously grateful. I will miss your presence in my life.
We will be taking a break for a few days and normal posts will resume on Friday.