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Semper Fi: Gerber's legacy not soon forgotten

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - The island mourned the loss of a man whose passion and heart touched the lives of many. Retired U.S. Marine John Gerber was laid to rest today with a memorial service held at the San Juan Bautista Church in Ordot. According to many in the community, his legacy will never be forgotten. 

Hundreds of island residents paid respects today to Gerber, who spent most of his life helping others.  Former senator Ted Nelson was a teacher and school principal at George Washington High School during the time Gerber was there, including when he graduated with the Class of 1969. Nelson says he was a remarkable man who was respected by many. 

"He was a builder. He was the spirit that kept us going for the last 40 years. He allowed us to be meeting at his place at least once a week, and he played a major role in all our reunions," said Nelson.  "And the kids behind me will never forget him also. One thing we like about John is his remarkable achievement in promoting the Marines, and we should be proud."

Gerber's former classmate, Martin Leon Guerrero, says he knew him very well. In fact, they played in a band together called Every Girl's Friend.  Leon Guerreo says he was an all around genuine man who helped others with no hesitation, noting, "The personal side of him, although he was outspoken and told you exactly how he felt, he also did it with heart. He just didn't just slam you. He'd just let you know nicely. He's going to be missed. He's really going to be missed."

Peter Alexcis Ada knew Gerber during his childhood years. Ada says he's always known Gerber to be a man of service, dedicated to helping others, adding, "John was so giving of everybody else and sometimes he would forget himself, and that's exactly what happened. He was always giving to everybody. He never held back. He called me in November when I was looking for a venue for the Fisher House reception, so we sat down and talked and he said we should consider that we had a lot of elderly who are sick and he wanted to look at other places. He was ready to provide his place in case there was a need."

Okkodo High School Senior Rashawna Flores says with Gerber's help, her school was able to start a new U.S. Marine Corps Junior ROTC program.  "We're very grateful and very thankful for him. Without John Gerber, we wouldn't have this program that we have put together this year and I'm hoping for more of it to come in the next five to ten years" she told KUAM News.

Gerber passed away earlier this month of a heart attack. Friends and family will continue to remember the proud Marine with stories and fond memories that will forever be in the minds and hearts of those who knew him.

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