George “Gerry” (pronounced “Gary”) Ernstrom of Rowley, passed away Monday morning, June 28th, at the age of 88, while under care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston with his wife Joyce and son Glen by his side.
Gerry was born in Binghamton, New York on February 6, 1933, to Ethel and George Ernstrom. Gerry, a great sports fan and a pitcher with a “big roundhouse” curve for his junior high team, grew up on Great Neck Long Island, often taking the subways all the way up to the Bronx to watch the Yankees, and occasionally made trips to the old Polo grounds or Ebbets field for the Giants or Dodgers.
Although raised a New Yorker, as one who lived most of his life as a New Englander, Gerry grew to love the Red Sox and all of the New England sports teams. His go-to outfit in retirement was a Patriots hoodie and Red Sox cap. His Pats seat cushion was always at his chair at the kitchen table while he read avidly history and spy novels or while playing cards.
Gerry retired from the Air Force in 1972 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and continued in the Air Force Reserves as a liaison officer for the Air Force Academy through the 1980’s. He was particularly proud of helping Donald Kudym of Rowley enter the Air Force Academy.
Stationed in France in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, Gerry learned to fly jets and the large transport plane the C-124. After the Air Force, he joined the Traveler’s Insurance company where he applied his interests and skills in finance learned as a graduate of the University of Utah, majoring in business and economics. He stayed with the Travelers until he retired.
Gerry loved to fish. He taught his sons salt water surf fishing, and he loved fishing the mouth of the Merrimac from his center console boat, “The Bug”, named after his favorite playing card in poker. He loved it when his son Neal got his photo on the wall at Surfland, the famous tackle and bait store on Plum Island, an operation he remembers when it was just a worm shack.
Gerry was generous and playful. He always looked forward to hosting the monthly poker games with buddies from the neighborhood and work. Gerry was known for his unusual choice of poker variants, “the cross”, involving the use of wild cards, high-low betting, conditions that led to wild rounds of casual betting and were a regular set up for great stories for the next day.
Fishing and poker were a never-ending source of his vast collection of stories that he humorously regaled to his friends, family, and even complete strangers.
But perhaps his most favorite way of expressing his playful spirit was that as grandfather, “Gpop”. His grandchildren, granddaughters Ellery, Elisabeth, and grandson Ethan looked forward to his “horse rides” where he carried the kids on his back, down the hall, on all fours. G-pop was also known for his trademark kiss on the cheek “a poofer”, his stubble-tickled puffs of blown kisses on the cheek.
Gerry leaves, of his immediate family, loving wife, Joyce, married for 49 years, his son Glen and Glen’s wife Carolyn, his son (predeceased) Neal, his daughter in-law Erin, his son Eric, his sister Adele, his nephew Dennis Allen (wife Michelle and their son Martin) and his grandchildren Ethan, Ellery, and Elisabeth. Gerry was fortunate to live by loving neighbors, the McMahon’s, the LeBrun's, the Johnson’s. The family is especially grateful for the outpouring of support by Cathy and Bob Lebrun in Gerry’s time of need.
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, July 24, 2021 at 11:00 a.m., at the First Congregational Church, Main Street, Rowley. Gerry would be grateful for people to honor his memory by a donation to the Jimmy Fund for Cancer Research or by donating blood, platelets, or time at your next local blood drive. Details for honoring Gerry for cancer research and support of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute: donations can be sent with any area of need of your choice to: Dana Farber Cancer Institute, P. O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284. To light a memorial candle or to leave a message of condolence, please visit www.fsrobertsandson.com. Arrangements entrusted to F. S. Roberts & Son Funeral Home of Rowley.
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