100th Birthday Celebration of
John O. Gerrish
August 14th, 2010
Red Fox Inn, Saranac Lake, NY
On November 29th, 2010, Pop passed
away quietly in his sleep. Hold fast to the happy memories of
events like this 100th birthday party celebration to remember him
L-R: Al-Quadir Marsh (great grandson and
videographer), Jim Gerrish (son), John O. aka. "Pop" or
"Jack" Gerrish, Lucy Gerrish (wife of grandson Philip
Gerrish), and Mary E. Gerrish (daughter).
"Pop" Gerrish makes a
grand entrance to his party, walking in on Mary's arm under his
own power. He takes a long walk with her almost every day, so
this little excursion is nothing.
Pop greets his brother Charles.
L-R: Nicholas Suminski (great grandson),
Elizabeth Suminski (granddaughter), Ivan Suminski (great
grandson), Harriet Groenleer (great granddaughter), Sophia
Suminski (great granddaughter), Andrew Groenleer (great
Entrance music provided by the
Suminski and Groenleer great grand children.
Erika von Trapp, long time
friend of the family.
Father Phil Merdinger (Left)
greets Sandy Gerrish as her son Philip looks on with his wife
Lucy by his side. Father Phil went to St. Benedict's Prep School
in Newark, NJ as a classmate of John B. and has been a life-long
friend of the family.
Pop listens attentively as his
children, Mary, Cathy and Jim, play his 1957 published
composition Variations on a Burgundian Carol on the
recorders. It was dedicated "To John (B.) and the
Midnight Recorder Society" which included Father Phil, among
others. Video below.
Catherine (Cathy) Ryan on the soprano recorder,
Mary Gerrish on the alto recorder, and Jim Gerrish on the tenor
recorder, playing three movements (Prelude, Scherzo, and Finale)
of Variations on a Burgundian Carol composed by their
father, John O. Gerrish.
L-R: (as best I can)- Kama Prellwitz, Irene
Gerrish (in front and concealing Sandra Gerrish and Philip
Gerrish), Rosemary Yaichuck, Ivan Suminski, Lizzie and Mike Ryan,
Mary and Jim Gerrish, Eva Gerrish, Sophia Suminski, Nick
Suminski, Harriet Groenleer, Elizabeth Suminski, Andrew Groenleer
The musicians assemble for the
playing and singing of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring from Cantata
No. 147 by J.S. Bach. This was always a featured
piece of the concerts given by John O. Gerrish and The
Gerrish Family Singers. Conducting the piece from his chair
is John O. Gerrish, assisted by his first born son, John B.
Gerrish (hiding somewhere in the background).
Sandy Gerrish leads with the flute as the
orchestra and singers, all children, grandchildren,
great-grandchildren and personal friends of John O. Gerrish play Jesu,
Joy of Man's Desiring by J.S. Bach.
Prellwitz, friend of the family and
special guest violinist with the newly formed Jesu Joy
Ensemble, presents Pop with a special bouquet of flowers
sent from his Alma Mater, the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY, from which he graduated in 1930. Kama
also currently attends Crane School of Music.
L-R: Foreground - Eva Gerrish, Sophia
Suminski; back row - Philip Gerrish, Lizzie Ryan, Andrew
Suminski, Andrew Groenleer, Mike Ryan, Nicolas Suminski, Jim
Gerrish, Mary Gerrish, Deborah Groenleer, Cathy Ryan, Harriet
Off on the left but out of the photo (but definitely heard!):
Irene Gerrish, Elizabeth Suminski
John B. Gerrish (striped shirt
front and center) was the chief organizer of this event, as well
as Master of Ceremonies and conductor. Here he conducts another
of Pop's compositions published by The Boston Music Company in
1953 and dedicated to Mary, I Sing A Maiden, sung a
capella by the family chorus. See Rehearsal Video HERE. Read TEXTS of song HERE.
Full Performance video
contributed by Marc Groenleer
John (Jack) Gerrish gazes in amazement at the
100 blazing candles over his birthday cake. How will he ever blow
them all out? With a little help from his great grand-children,
of course! See the video below:
The great grandchildren gather willingly around
the cake and candles to help great grandpa blow them out and get
his wish... which I think has already come true in this room
Toastmaster Bill Ryan (Son-in-law and Cathy's
husband) gives the first toast, as John B. warns everyone not to
drink it all because there will be a second toast, thereby
breaking his own rule about extra toasts and speeches.
However, John is forgiven his
"transgression" because the second toast is for Mary,
who has been Pop's caregiver for the past 18 years, as well as
the world's best "Aunt" by unanimous acclamation of all
the relatives present, because she never forgets a birthday and
always picks the best presents for every occasion. John B. also
presents her with a special bouquet of flowers. Video of toasts
L-R: Harriet Groenleer (great granddaughter), Ivan Suminski
(great grandson), Irene Gerrish ( great granddaughter), Nicholas
Suminski (great grandson), Andrew Groenleer (great grandson).
Another combination of great
grandchildren play an "arrangement for cousins" by
Harriet Groenleer of Aaron Copeland's Hoe-down movement
from Rodeo .
L-R: Sandra Gerrish, wife of John B. Gerrish, and their children
Matthew Gerrish, Deborah Groenleer, and Elizabeth Suminski.
The final ensemble of the party played a variety
of W.A. Mozart quartets in the background as relatives and
friends began to say their farewells and head back home.
At this point, Pop was beginning to nod off, so
Father Phil gave him a special blessing, and Mary took him home
to have a nap. Tomorrow they can remember the party, look at
pictures and videos of the event, and recall all the excitement
of this day that celebrates a century of living life to the
L-R: Olivia Goode, Eva Gerrish, Sophia Suminski
The youngest of the great grandchildren at the
party taught us all a lesson in getting along by using every
spare moment to talk, sing and dance together and most of all, to
Ann TenEyck's Photos
L-R: Frederick Goode, Jim Gerrish
Most of the above party photos were taken by
Fred Goode, Jim Gerrish's son. However, no one remembered to take
a photo of the photographer, so here he is at last, thanks to our
Saranac Lake neighbor and lifelong family friend Ann TenEyck.
L-R: Elijah Goode, (Grandpa) Jim Gerrish, Mary Gerrish, Al-Quadir
Ann also took this photo of Jim's two grandsons
who were at the party and who helped photograph it as well:
Elijah (Fred's son) and Al-Quadir (step son of Lee Harper, who
did not attend the party). Both grandsons are members of Jim's Wiz Kids.
L-R: Soozie Leubert, Mary Gerrish, Noel Prellwitz
Ann also remembered to take a
photo of Kama's parents, although Kama's parents did not forget to
invite many of us to their camp at Rainbow Lake for a late night
swimming party and campfire.
Ann also took this photo of
brothers John and Jim Gerrish. John is losing his hair and Jim is
losing his teeth, but both retain their sense of humor.
We gathered this action photo of neighbor Ann
TenEyck from the background of one of Fred's photos.
L-R: Foreground - Al-Quadir Marsh, Olivia Goode
Al-Quadir Marsh did some of the videography on a
Flip camera, and, as you can see, took still photos on his
digital camera at the same time. Al-Quadir is also an official photographer of his Uncle Fred's East
Orange Unified Marching Band. Olivia Goode, his cousin,
watched him very closely and for her birthday in September 2010
asked for a digital camera of her own (Which she got! Look out
Marc Groenleer, grandson-in-law, videotaped
the event and produced a DVD for members of the family.
Private Lawn Performance
L-R: Philip Gerrish, Deborah Groenleer, John B. Gerrish,
Shortly after the party, the children of John B.
Gerrish (in the coon tail cap) performed a special concert for
their Grandfather John O. Gerrish on the lawn of his home in
Saranac Lake. The photo is taken from a video that Marc Groenleer
(Deborah's husband) made of the lawn concert. Marc produced a DVD
from videos he took during and after the party, which is
available to family members upon request.
Family members who spot
errors or omissions, please contact Jim
Gerrish. Anyone who attended the
party and who has additional photos, video and information either
of a historic
nature or about the party,
please e-mail them to Jim Gerrish.