Rich was born in Browerville, Minn. to parents Albert and Frances Gerstenberger and had three siblings, William Gerstenberger (who predeceased Richard), Albert Gerstenberger and Patricia Rogers. The family moved to Harvre, Mont. when Rich was four years old, and then to Trout Creek at age nine when Rich and his brother, Bill, rode horseback from Havre to move farm animals to their new home in Trout Creek.
Richard is a WWII Veteran, having enlisted in the US Navy at age 17 and turned 18 the next day to enter basic training in 1943 at Ferragut Naval Training Station, Idaho. Richard served as sonar man on Destroyer Escort 193, USS Garfield Thomas, on convoy duty in the Atlantic Ocean providing protection from German subs and was honorably discharged in 1946. Following in Rich's footsteps to serve in the military, Rich's son, Richard, grandchildren Gina, Sean, Joseph, Josh, Tabitha, and Caplen have, or are currently serving in the Navy, Air Force, and Army.
Rich has also served his community as a lineman with Northern Lights for 34 years and served as trustee on the school boards for both Trout Creek Elementary and Noxon High School during the time when the new school was built at Noxon. Rich also helped in numerous ways with the Trout Creek Rural Fire District and served on the board of directors for the River’s Bend Golf Club in Thompson Falls where he was an avid golfer. On Oct. 9, 1991 Rich was awarded a (155 yard 5th hole) Hole-in-One Award at Mission Mountain Golf Course in Ronan, Mont.
Rich and Jean attended St. Williams Catholic Church both in Thompson Falls and Noxon where he was a first degree Knight of Columbus.
Rich and Jean enjoyed traveling to several Navy reunions and their memorable cruise through the Panama Canal to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1996.
Rich was known for his skill in flipping pancakes to help Jean serve up a "bodacious" breakfast for their family, and his great sense of humor while teaching three generations to play cribbage and pinochle, and the importance of always playing to win. We're going to miss you!
A funeral mass will be held at St. Williams Catholic Church in Thompson Falls Saturday, Oct. 12 at 11 a.m., followed by burial at the Whitepine Cemetery. All family and friends are invited to a luncheon at the church following burial. All are also invited to participate in a vigil at the church, Friday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. Jean and her family request that any desired memorials be made to the Trout Creek Rural Fire District or St. Williams Catholic Church.
Family and friends are invited to sign Richard’s online guest book at coffeltfuneral.com.
Arrangements are entrusted to the care of Coffelt Funeral Service.