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Charles Harry Gerst

1929 - 2015
Charles Harry Gerst Obituary
Oct. 16, 1929-March 20, 2015.
Charles Harry Gerst (Chuck) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa., the oldest of four children of Charles P. Gerst and Rose Satariano Gerst. After graduating in 1948 from Pittsburgh North Catholic High School, Chuck enlisted in the US Marine Corp, distinguishing himself in harrowing combat action (Battle of Chosin Reservoir) in Korea and earning the rank of sergeant. While awaiting discharge from the Marines in Philadelphia, he met Ethel DeWitt who he married in 1953. Chuck and Ethel settled in Long Beach, a place Chuck had come to know and love since his time stationed at nearby Camp Pendleton, when he would often visit his uncle, aunt and cousins who resided there.
Chuck and Ethel adopted two children, Tony and Marianne, and raised their family with great devotion in the same house on Hackett Avenue for nearly 18 years. During this time, Chuck managed the Quigley's department store in Belmont Shore and was very active in community organizations including Holy Family Adoptive Services (Board Member), Belmont Shore Business Association (President) and Belmont Shore Optimist Club. Chuck was also the driving force in the establishment of the very first guitar mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church and served on the Committee overseeing Cub Scout Pack 120 and Boy Scout Troop 120.
Chuck enjoyed a full "second career" later in life, both as a businessman managing several different Carl's Jr restaurants in Southern California and as a husband and father, lovingly raising his stepson, Tony Quintero, in Signal Hill, even after his marriage to the Tony's mother, Josie Quintero, ended. Upon his retirement in 1997, Chuck was able to devote even more time to community service. He ran senior citizen field trips for Signal Hill Community Services and served on the Board for the United Cambodian Community in Long Beach. But his greatest passion was volunteering at Alvarado Elementary School in Signal Hill nearly every day for over eleven years. This distinguished service was recognized in 2009 when the library at the school was named in honor of "Mr. Chuck".
Chuck is survived by his son and daughter-in-law Tony and Jennifer Gerst (Moraga, Calif.), daughter Marianne Gerst (Talent, Ore.), and stepson Tony Quintero (San Pedro), as well as his sister Cathy DiMaio (Canton, Ohio), brother Elmer Gerst (Pittsburgh, Pa.) sister Rose Marie Baierl (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and grandchildren Andrew Gerst (Lancaster, Calif), Emily Gerst (Evanston, Ill.), and Ellen Gerst (Moraga, Calif.). Chuck is also survived by his cousin and her husband Frances and Bill Keys (Long Beach) and extended family throughout Southern California.
In keeping with Chuck's wishes, his ashes are to be scattered in the Pacific Ocean he so enjoyed living close to and there will be no memorial service. Those wishing to honor Chuck's memory are encouraged to make a donation in his name to Alvarado Elementary School in Signal Hill. The family expresses its deepest appreciation to Sea Crest Hospice Services and Autumn Years/Pacifica Newport Mesa for the loving care they gave Chuck during his final year and a half in a difficult struggle with late stage dementia.
Published in Gazette Newspapers on Apr. 2, 2015
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