Marie Gerken, 91, of Beemer, formerly of West Point, died Thursday, November 8, 2018 at Colonial Haven in Beemer. Funeral Mass will be 10:30am on Saturday, November 10 at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church at St. Charles with Fr. Steve Emanuel as celebrant. Burial will be at St. Anthony’s Cemetery with lunch following at the GACC Cafeteria. Visitation will be Friday from 5:00pm to 7:00pm with a Vigil Service at 7:00pm all at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. Memorials may be made to St. Anthony’s Catholic Church or to Masses. Arrangements by Stokely Funeral Home.
Marie Gerken was born January 14, 1927 on the family farm southwest of West Point to Charles and Margaret (Stratman) Gerken. She attended grade school at St. Anthony’s Catholic School in St. Charles and high school at Guardian Angels in West Point. Marie worked various jobs until she replaced her sister Ann as the housekeeper for Father John Beacom. Marie accompanied Father Beacom through his career as a Catholic priest at the parishes of St. Aloysius in Aloys and Holy Cross in Beemer. Marie continued to be Father Beacom’s housekeeper into his retirement until his passing in June of 2012. Marie lived in West Point until she entered the Colonial Haven skilled nursing facility in Beemer in November of 2012. She resided there until she went to her eternal rest on the morning of November 8th, 2018.
Marie was a devout Catholic serving our Lord through her music. The Franciscan Sisters at St. Anthony’s School taught Marie how to play the organ and on February 23rd, 1940 at the age of 13 Marie played the organ for the first time in the choir at St. Anthony’s Church. Marie particularly enjoyed playing the organ at Christmas services and listening to the choir, mainly 'those Ortmeier boys' because hearing them sing was 'worth the price of admission!'.
Marie also served our Lord by providing her homemaking and caregiving skills for Father Beacom. She tended to Father in his home until he was in his 90’s. When it became too difficult for Father Beacom to leave the house for daily Mass they fashioned a chapel in their home where Father could say Mass at an altar handcrafted by Leander Wellman while Marie played the keyboard. In this chapel hung Father’s WWII vestments damaged by shrapnel from a German attack while he was saying Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve for the Allied troops. Marie appreciated the blessings she received from the many priests and bishops who came to visit Father Beacom.
Marie took pleasure in reminiscing about her life as the youngest child of seven growing up on the farm with her beloved dog Wooley. She recalled her dad inviting neighbors to use their phone, the only phone in the neighborhood. She remembered the night the Rolf home burned and how her dad seeing a family with no home, invited them to live in the Gerken home until their new home was built. She often spoke of their good neighbors the Paschangs and of knowing John Paschang as just a young man, before he became Bishop Paschang.
Marie loved and was loved by her many nieces and nephews. She was famous for her peanut butter bars which were always a tasty treat for hungry relatives.
Marie was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Herbert (Ethel) and Leo (Genevieve), and her sisters Pauline, Charlotte (Victor) Throener, Clara (Anton) Wiesen, and Ann (Leander) Ernesti. She is survived by and will be missed by her many nieces and nephews.
Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:23)