Robert C. “Duke” Gerlach, age 83, of Ovid passed away on Sunday, April 23, 2017.
The family will be present to receive friends from 4:00 to 7:00pm on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at Covert Funeral Home, 7199 So. Main Street, Ovid. A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00am on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at Christ Church, 1993 Main Street, Willard. Prayers of Committal with Military Honors will follow in Ovid Union Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Duke’s memory to the Edith B. Ford Library, PO Box 410, Ovid, NY 14521 or Christ Church, PO Box 275, Willard, NY 14588.
Duke was born in Tarrytown, New York on May 26, 1933, a son of the late Otto and Irene (Cameron) Gerlach. He graduated from Ithaca College, and while attending there met his wife, Barbara. A United States Army Veteran, Duke honorably served his country from 1956 to 1958. Being a gifted musician, Duke shared his talent as the music teacher for South Seneca Central Schools for 33 years. While working there he lead the marching band, directed musicals, arranged band exchanges to Disney and Canada, and judged NYSMA competitions. An avid sports fan, Duke supported the local sports teams and helped film football, scored wrestling, and coached bowling and golf.
He was an active member of the Christ Church in Willard and served as lay minister for many years. He also served on the Romulus Town Council for 38 years and was member of the American Legion and VFW Posts in Ovid and served as bugler for many years. A talented storyteller, Duke wrote an annual Christmas story beginning in 1972 for the local Ovid Gazette and recently his Christmas stories were published into a book. He designed various signs throughout the area and created many drawings, specializing in cartoons. Duke’s unmatched sense of humor never stopped, always making family and friends smile. The family lake cottage on Cayuga Lake served as the perfect place for family gatherings all summer.
Duke is survived by his wife of 60 years, Barbara Gerlach of Ovid; son, Donald (Mary) Gerlach of Cortland; daughter, Sally (Steve) Everts of Varick; five grandchildren, Jeffrey Gerlach, Jonathan Gerlach, Carah (Michael) Everts, Zachary Covert, and Alexander Duke (Leigh) Covert; five great grandchildren, Christian, Colton, Wyatt, Cameron Duke, Bowe Everts, and an expected great granddaughter, Evelynne Anne Covert in July; a brother, Donald (Eva) Gerlach of Sierra Vista, AZ; and several nieces and nephews.