Who WAS Jon S. Gerling? I’ve found out more about him

3 Jul

Last August, I posted a blog about a small memorial located in Ridge Park, just steps from busy Ridge Rd., and next to Challenger Miracle Field. It was erected decades ago, but I had only just noticed it recently.

The memorial was created in honor of Jon S. Gerling. After discovering it, I tried to do a little research into Mr. Gerling, with limited success. So I tossed the blog out there reporting what I had discovered, and ended it by asking for anyone with more information to contact me.

It took several months, but earlier this year I heard from Rob Gerling, Jon’s son, who filled me in a little more about his father’s background and why the memorial was placed there.

He wrote,

You are correct my father is Jon S. Gerling, and you are correct he was very active in the Webster Athletic Association. Prior to his death my brother and I played baseball in WAA and my father was both a coach of teams and commissioner of the league. After his death the baseball field by the Town Hall was dedicated in my father’s name.  

Rob added that Jon was the son of Curt Gerling, who at the time owned Empire State Weeklies, which published many weekly newspapers in the area including the Webster Herald. Curt was also an author (having written three books on Rochester society and an autobiography), and an early WXXI-TV personality.

In a follow-up email, Rob provided even more background about his family and life in 1960s Webster, writing,

(My father) grew up in the Rochester area, went to Brighton High School, and graduated in 1959. He attended Furman University in Greenville, SC, although only went for a couple of years.  He married my mother, Sheila Siede, in December 1961. Myself and my brother Jim, followed in 1962 and 1965. 

My father and his brother Bill both worked for my grandfather at Empire State Weeklies in Webster (now owned by Dave Young). Dave was there when I worked a few afternoons when they printed the papers on Tuesday afternoons.

My father was active in local sports, the Webster Athletic Association, with my brother and myself, up until his passing. My father along with his father was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed duck and pheasant hunting and fishing on Sodus Bay, where Curt Gerling (his father) had a hunting cabin. The place on Sodus Bay has since been sold.  While at Empire State Weeklies, my father sold advertising space in the various papers to local businesses where the paper was distributed.

His Brother Bill passed away in the early 2000’s and he also worked at the paper. He, like Curt, was very active in local Rochester politics. My father, not so much. 

Webster was a different place in the 60s and 70s growing up. We would go to Wegmans, Al’s Pizza, Musclow’s, Charlie Riedel’s and GoldenWest for a big night out on the town. There was a drive-in and a bowling alley. The town has changed in the last 50 years. 

My father is buried at West Webster Cemetery … He is buried with my father’s family, while his father Curt, and brother Bill are buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester.

Many thanks to Rob for helping us know more about Jon Gerling and how he — and his family — made their mark in our town.

Click here to read the original blog I posted about the memorial.

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(posted 7/3/2022)

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