Friday, April 5, 2013

Today was Dad's Funeral... Celebrating the life of Jerry Gifford

My Dad died on March 27th, it was Holy Week, so a funeral wasn't possible during that week or weekend, plus our Church hosted the Emergency Homeless Shelter during that week as well, and so, we put off Dad's visitation and funeral until yesterday, and today.

Since I work at Christ Church, I wanted to be the one to do Dad's funeral bulletin.  Our family met together with Fr. John (our temporary supply priest), and we decided the hymns, scripture lessons, and things we needed for it.  

I made this bulletin cover, with photos of Dad, for it as well.  We wanted this not to be a mourning of Dad's death, but instead, a celebration of Dad's life.

Our family was overwhelmed yesterday at the number of people who came to show their respects for our Dad at the Visitation.  From 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. was the time for it, but the lines were long all during that time, and extended well down the block as well as inside the church.  It was after 8 p.m. by the time we greeted and thanked all who had stood in line, some for over 2 hours!  We just guess-timated on the numbers who came, probably went over 800 people!

Our thanks and love to all who came to the visitation and funeral, and expressed such kind comments for us about Dad.  It truly meant a lot to us all!

Each of us, during the funeral, had a chance to share something about Dad, and we did.  It was a time of tears, and some laughing as we fondly remembered stories and jokes and things about Dad.  I think Dad would have been crying and laughing right along with us all.  And the hymns and praise we chose were awesome too, thank you Christ Church Music Ministry, especially Susanne and Ron Nelson, and Tanya and Mike who did a duet of the Lord's Prayer as well...we SOOO appreciate you all!
I even had several family members as well as friends come to me after the funeral and say, "I want these exact same hymns for my own funeral!"... guess we have a lot of pre-planned ones now too.

And special thanks to the women (and men), of Christ Church for the funeral, luncheon, love and compassion shown to all our family.  Thank you especially to friend and church family member, Patricia Leverick, for all she did in getting this together for so many people!  We had tables set up for the luncheon upstairs in all areas, as well as in the Parish was amazing at how many people we could actually fit in for a luncheon!  THANK YOU!!

God has blessed us with a terrific man of God, in our Dad, and with a wonderful extended family and friends in so many ways!! xoxox  Our love and thanks to you all!


Dad's Obituary.....

Jerry Brooks Gifford * 4/12/1931 - 3/27/2013

Jerry Brooks Gifford, 81, Delavan, died unexpectedly at St. Luke's, Milwaukee, on Wed., Mar. 27, 2013.

Jerry was born April 12, 1931, in Delavan, WI, the son of Harry G. Gifford and H. Rita (Crary) Gifford. Jerry graduated from Delavan High School in 1949, and was an infamous member of the Hatless Harrys. After high school he joined the U. S. Air Force and served in the Korean Conflict, stationed in Alaska and Colorado.

He married Barbara Mitchell June 22, 1951, in Fairbanks, Alaska. Jerry returned to Delavan, and worked for a short time as a police officer with the City of Delavan. He joined Lange Tree Experts; and, later started his own company, Gifford Tree Service, which is still in operation, and from which he recently retired.

He was very active at Christ Episcopal Church, serving as an acolyte (for 70 years), as a member of the Vestry, and Senior and Junior Warden.  He actively participated in various ministries, helping with the Walworth County Emergency Overnight Homeless Shelter when it was held at Christ Church. Jerry was a member of Delavan American Legion Post 95.

Jerry was active in political life as well, he served several terms as Delavan Town Chairman and as Side Supervisor.   Jerry was on the Spring Grove Cemetery Board of Directors, and lately has helped in the restoration of the Civial War Monument there. 

Jerry was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying nature, walks in the woods with his family and walks with his dogs too.  He enjoyed canoeing, kayaking and camping with family and friends, hunting and fishing, often with long time hunting buddies, along with his son, son-in-laws, and grandsons in northern WI, TN, and Ontario, Canada.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 62 years, Barbara (Mitchell) Gifford; and their children: Roberta (John) Karstetter of Delavan, Chellie (Bill) Pelnar of Delavan, Susan (Todd) Kearney of Lodi, WI, Peggy (Mel) Nieuwenhuis of Delavan, Harriett (Mark) Peterson of Delavan, Sandra (Charlie) Getka of Elkhorn, WI, Jerry (Lisa) Gifford of Lake Geneva, and Erica Mills of Greendale. 

Jerry and Barb also have a continuing, growing family including 41 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Jerry is also survived by his sister, Shirley (Gifford) Abell of Delavan, andbrother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins and loving friends.

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, donations may be made to Christ Episcopal Church of Delavan, WI.

Visitation will be held Thursday, April 4th from 2 until 6 p.m. at CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 503 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan, WI.  The Funeral will be held Friday, April 5th at 10:30 a.m. at CHRIST CHURCH, with a luncheon following in the Christ Church Parish Hall. BETZER FUNERAL HOME assisted the family.

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