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John Rock Gerlach, 84, Nature Expert

Worked for Cleveland Metroparks for 37 years

John Rock Gerlach, 84, of Westlake died June 16.

He was born in Cleveland on Oct. 3, 1927, to the late Henry R. Gerlach Sr. and Marie (Oliver) Gerlach. He was a 1945 graduate of Lakewood High School and held Bachelor's (1949) and Masters (1951) degrees from the University of Michigan.

Gerlach worked for Cleveland Metroparks from 1950 to 1987 as a specialist in trees, wildlife and soil conservation. He was appointed by the Governor of Ohio to the Forestry Advisory Council (1995-1999). Gerlach was awarded a 20-year Distinguished Service Award for the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District.

He also worked with Boy Scout Troops from all over the area, showing them how to plant and care for trees in the Metroparks. Gerlach was an active participant in the Holy Name Society, Deanery President, awarded the Holy Name Deanery Lifetime Award for Service to God, Humanity and the Holy Name Society. He served on the Kiwanis International Focus Committee.

He traveled to Russia with the Eisenhower People-to-People Program and to China and Australia with the Society of Arboriculture.

Gerlach used his knowledge and experience to help people in times of crisis, traveling to South Carolina after Hurricane Hugo to  help landowners evaluate their property loss, and provided similar assistance when tornadoes hit in Ohio.

Gerlach is survived by his wife, Mary T. (Hennie) Gerlach; children Mary Ann Murnyack (Robbie), Margaret Leben (Frank), Catherine Dedor (Joe) and Helen Brown (Tim); 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by siblings Theresa (Cermak), Henry, Rita (Kurcik) and Marilyn.

Calling hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, at . A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 20, at . Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Eliza Jennings Senior Care Network, 14701 Detroit Road, Suite 620, Lakewood, OH 44107 or Hospice of the Western Reserve 300 East 185th St., Cleveland, OH 44119.

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