GERRATH, Joseph Fredrick
Of Guelph passed away peacefully with family at his side on August 10, 2019 at Hospice Wellington, at the age of 83.
He is survived by his loving wife Jean (Drewry), sister-in law Tina (Hennekes), son John (Christie Bahlai), daughter Janet (Jer Robbins), and grandchildren James (Hannon), Penelope and Wesley (Bahlai-Gerrath) as well as many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents John Gerrath and Margaret (Anderson) and siblings Ruth (Foster), Lawrence, Louise (Stoneham), and John.
Joe was born June 25, 1936 on a farm near Cheviot Saskatchewan where he lived until his father died in 1944. The family then settled in Vancouver where Joe received the rest of his schooling, culminating in a PhD in Botany from University of British Columbia in 1968. He and his wife Jean then moved to Guelph, where he began his career as a professor in the Botany Department at the University of Guelph. He taught many courses, including Phycology, Bryology, and Aquatic Biology. He retired in 1999. Joe studied a group of green algae, the desmids, and was a foremost expert on their morphology and taxonomy. He collaborated with colleagues at the British Museum of Natural History on the desmid flora of Africa. He was an active member of the Canadian Botanical Association, and served as Treasurer and President. He also wrote and produced their quarterly Bulletin for some years, which gave him the opportunity to reveal his broad knowledge and sense of humour. Joe was an active member of the Guelph Field Naturalists in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
After he retired, Joe took up genealogy, and created a large and important data set on the Geraths/Gerrath family and their relatives, beginning with his father and his 8 siblings, and extending it to include Joe’s 80+ cousins and their families. He worked with historians at the University of Wisconsin Madison on early German settlement in the state, and continued adding to his files until his death. Joe volunteered regularly at the LSD Family History Centre in Kitchener for a number of years, and was a specialist in German genealogy.
Joe is remembered as a quiet, kind, and patient man who was generous with his time. He had an encyclopedic knowledge, which made him very useful to know in the pre-Google days. He loved to drive, and took the family on nearly a dozen camping trips across Canada and the USA, that usually included collecting algae samples. He enjoyed classical music, and was a long-time season ticket holder of Tafelmusik and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
A reception will be held at the WALL-CUSTANCE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 206 Norfolk St., Guelph on Sunday, September 1 from 1:00 to 4:00pm, where people can exchange reminiscences of Joe.
Donations may be given to the Guelph General Hospital or Hospice Wellington in his name.
|A tree will be planted in memory of Joseph F. Gerrath in the Wall-Custance Memorial Forest, University of Guelph Arboretum. Dedication service, Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm.|