Gerald Herman Eilers, 97, St. Cloud
September 25, 1917 - August 8, 2015
Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00AM Monday August 17, 2015 at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in St. Cloud for Gerald Eilers who died Saturday at St. Benedict’s Senior Community in St. Cloud. The Rev. Scott Pogatchnik will officiate and burial will be at St. Marcus Cemetery in Clear Lake. Visitation will be from 4-7PM Sunday, with a time of sharing at 5:30PM at the Williams Dingmann Funeral Home, 324 2nd Avenue South, Sauk Rapids, and 1 hour prior to service on Monday at the church in St. Cloud.
Gerald (Jerry) Eilers was born on September 25, 1917 to Herman J. & Gertrude (Dingmann) Eilers in Clear Lake, MN. His family moved to St. Cloud in 1926 and he graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, which awarded hum a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007, and St. Cloud Business College. Jerry served as a Navy Officer aboard the U.S.S. Monterey in World War II. While attending officer training at Harvard University he met and married Sarah Blanche Lawton of Cambridge, MA in 1945.
Jerry and Blanche moved to St. Cloud where they raised four children. Jerry’s success as a husband, father and grandfather is his greatest legacy. His oldest grandson said in a birthday dedication in 1990 that “He has always been a great example—tolerant, patient and always kind”.
Jerry worked as an accountant for Standard Brands, Kollman Monumental, and Gamble Robinson. From 1969-1983 he worked at the St. Cloud Housing & Redevelopment Authority (HRA) as both Deputy Director and Executive Housing Director. In 1982 he was recognized as the Outstanding Public Housing Director in Minnesota. Following retirement in 1989, Jerry was elected to two terms as Benton County Commissioner. The St. Cloud Times, in its endorsement, wrote that “Eilers is everything a county commissioner should be: intelligent, reasonable, open minded and progressive”.
Jerry’s list of volunteer activities is extensive. He was a charter member of the St. Cloud United Way, where he received the organization’s Merit Award in 1971 and 1993. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club where he received its Citizen of the Year Award in 1994 and 1998 and served as Lt. Governor of Division 9 in 1995-96. He was a member of the Elks Club, VFW, American Legion, Knights of Columbus and St. Cloud Retired Senior Volunteer Program. He was actively involved in promoting the St. Cloud AARP and at an AARP presentation to the Minnesota State Legislature he was praised as being “articulate, with a commanding presence”. In all of his volunteer activities he was a positive force and gained the admiration of his fellow volunteers. Jerry loved to walk daily, especially walks across the Mississippi river to the library to read the newspaper. His little piece of heaven was his land and cabin on Ruby Lake north of Grand Rapids where he loved to hunt and spend time with his family.
Jerry was preceded death by his wife Blanche, his brother, John, and his sister Bertha Kozlowski Kelley. He is survived by daughters Joanne (Peter) Hildt, Scottsdale, AZ; Clare (Brent)Baker, Chaska, MN; Barbara (Jim) Kruger, Monticello, MN; son, Jim (Mary) Eilers, Burnsville, MN; 10 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
If a man’s lifetime success is measured by examples of love, inspiration, and kindness, Jerry Eilers is the most successful man his family ever knew.