VALE JOE GERLACH
I arrived in the states after a 4-year hiatus with my little family, and it has been a whirlwind, to say the least. The main purpose of the visit was to say goodbye to my dad properly. For those who don't know, I was stuck in Australia when he had a stroke in 2020 and could not return to help him and be by his side when he passed a little more than a year later. It still makes me sad when I think about it. So to honor him, I was looking forward to paddling him out to a spot he and I went to often. He would watch me surf with his special military binoculars or film me. He would call me in if he saw me struggling or had an idea he wanted me to play around with, then I would go back out and try it.
I listened and trusted him and was blown away by what he taught me. Things that a surfer wouldn't think of because of his diving background. Some days I would surf 3 times, and he would eagerly go every time because he loved surfing so much, and of course, he loved me. Many people know this because they always saw us together at the beach or at competitions. He was friendly and would talk with anyone about surfing because he was so passionate. I continued inviting him to everything after I stopped competing, and thankfully he always came. He knew all my friends and my students and they knew him. He was so funny, smart, passionate, warm, and could always laugh at himself. He helped me become the man and teacher I am today. Now I am a dad with 2 sons and am doing my best to give them what I got from him. Thank You, Dad. I love you so much, and I am so grateful for the time you gave me. I feel you in my heart daily, especially when I teach and guide my sons.
Thank you to dignity memorial who made it possible to conduct his funeral from abroad.
Also thanks to everyone who came to pay their respects at the funeral and paddle out.