Gerart Bernard Verstraete was born in Marshall, MN on October 27, 1927 to Belgian immigrants Edwarde and Emma (Wolfrank) and lived on a farm near Marshall with his family. At 6 years old, with the ability to speak only Belgian, he attended country school and had to walk about two miles (uphillâ¦ both ways) to get there. Part way through first grade he moved with his family to Ghent where he attended St. Eloi Catholic School until 8th grade, when he quit school to help support his family. Gerart worked long hours at odd jobs until he was 18, when he enlisted in the Army. He served during WWII in Germany, Korea, and Japan. After his service, he returned to Ghent.
In 1949, he proposed to Margaret Klysen and they planned to wed in October of that year, but were persuaded to elope by her sister and her sisterâs fiancÃ©. They were married in a double ceremony on February 26, 1949 in St. Paul, MN. The couple lived in the Marshall/Ghent area until 1953, when they moved to Chicago. They moved back to Ghent in 1954 after Gerart was laid off from his job at Burlington Northern Railroad. He worked at various jobs in the area until 1983 when he started his own business, Verstraete Plumbing and Heating, becoming a successful entrepreneur. He begrudgingly retired in 2013 when the couple moved to Hill Street Place in Marshall.
Gerart loved fishing, vegetable gardening, and was an avid and very competitive card player. He especially enjoyed playing Pinochle and Pepper at the Adult Community Center and Hill Street Place in Marshall.
Gerart was not always dealt a winning hand in life (or in cards), but somehow always managed to come out a winner. His greatest passion in life was to provide for his family. This was evident in his hard work and the sacrifices he made to ensure that they were, and always would be, taken care of. His great love is a legacy to his family. He will be dearly missed by his children, grandchildren, relatives and friends!
Gerart died on Monday, April 23, 2018, at the Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD. He is survived by his children Sharon (and Ray) Root of Marshall, Patti Almich of Marshall, Gary (and Renee) Verstraete of Marshall and Kathy (and Tim) Blomme of Ghent, granddaughter Stacy (and Jeff) Pagano, great-grandchildren Nick and Isabelle, grandson Robert Shatto, great-grandchildren Owen, Brianna, Caden and Mylie, grandson Ricky (and Tanisha) Shatto, great-grandchildren Lilliana, Braedyn and Emilia, granddaughter Nicole (and Sean) Borth, great-grandsons Noah, Gage and Ethan, granddaughter Jeana (and Nick) Ziegler, great-granddaughters Emma and Adalyn, granddaughter Heather Blomme (fiancÃ© Paul Rupp,) nephew Dennis (and Shirley) Kerkaert, relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Margaret, brother Jules, sisters Mary Kerkaert and Margaret Boogaard, nephew Ed Boogaard and niece Janet Madden.
Blessed be his memory.