Gary F. Gerken, 70, Watertown

WATERTOWN, NY —  Beloved Gary F. Gerken, 70, Watertown, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, at the family cottage in the town of Orleans.

Gary was born Jan. 17, 1951, in Watertown, the oldest son of the late Frederick A. and Mary Herlehy Gerken, Jr. He was a 1970 graduate of Watertown High School and received his associates degree from Jefferson Community College.

On May 5, 1979, he married Kathy L. Gerken in Watertown. She died June 12, 1992.

Gary then married Karen E. Morley on Jan. 21, 1994, at Bonnie Castle Resort, Alexandria Bay.

Gary was the owner/partner of Dry Hill Ski Area and a ski instructor. He also owned and operated Poor Richard’s, a local staple and a place for social gatherings of friends and family. He was currently the athletic director at Cape Vincent Correctional Facility.

He was a sports enthusiast, and extremely athletic. Gary was a former quarterback for the Red & Black and was inducted into the Red & Black Hall of Fame in 2017. Along with skiing, he enjoyed playing golf and was a men’s city champion.

Gary was a lover of the River and the family cottage in Fishers Landing. The family enjoyed vacations in Myrtle Beach every year.

Above all, Gary loved his family and he made it a point to show it with his whole heart. He spent his life, until his last minutes, making sure that all were taken care of – always putting the needs of others in front of his own. He will be remembered as a giver – concerned about everyone else’s welfare, never asking for anything in return.His granddaughters were the shining light of his last years, having him wrapped around their fingers. Gary was one kind of a man – Pillar of the community, the life of any party he stepped foot in, he was kind to all, he loved deeply, and was generous beyond measure. Gary left a deep impression on the many lives he’s touched throughout a life cut much too short. A patriarch of the family, Gary left an undisputed legacy that will live in our hearts forever, passed on from generation to generation.

Along with his wife, Karen, Gary is survived by a daughter, Kylie J. Gerken and fiancé, David Ratigliano, Adams; four sons, Travis J. Gerken and fiancée, Fitore Hyseni, Syracuse, Shane M. Gerken and wife Marta Lopushanska, Baltimore, MD, Skylar M. Gerken and fiancée Rachel Harman, Baltimore, MD, and Chance M. Gerken, Liverpool; two granddaughters, Emilia and Sofia Gerken; a brother, David J. Gerken and wife Candi A., Watertown; two sisters, Teri G. Austin and husband Thomas, Cazenovia and Lanie M. Cahil, Watertown; a half sister Patsy Farr and husband Bill, Fremont, OH; one aunt, Laura Herlehy, DE, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Along with his parents, Gary was predeceased by his brother-in-law, Jim T. Cahill, June 23, 2005.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, at Holy Family Church. A celebration of Gary’s life will follow at Savory Downtown following the service.

Arrangements are entrusted to Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Watertown.

Online condolences to his family may be posted at

In lieu of flowers, donations in Gary’s name may be made to Save the River (, or Walker Center for Cancer Care, 830 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601.