James “Joe” Gerken, 76,

James “Joe” Gerken, 76, of West Portsmouth, died Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at SOMC. He was born July 21, 1942 in Portsmouth to the late Joseph and Renee (Dearford) Gerken. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by four brothers: Terrence, Jerry, Larry, and Mike.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann (Tamaye), and four children: John (Jennifer) of Minneapolis, Erin (Zeb) of Brooklyn, Maile (Chase) of Los Angeles, David (Marita) of Austin, and three grandchildren: Violet, Makena, and Vaughn.

Joe was an alum of Notre Dame High School, class of 1960. He was passionate about his career in aviation, and was a United Airlines pilot for 38 years. He had the pleasure of traveling the world, and enjoyed experiencing numerous cultures and cuisines through his work. He was a faithful parishioner of Our Lady of Sorrows Church. Joe was a devoted husband, father and friend, who also proudly accepted his de facto role as patriarch of the Gerken family. His many nieces and nephews loved “Uncle Joe” like a father and he treasured those relationships. It was commonplace for the entire clan to gather at “the country” to spend time with Joe and Mary Ann multiple times each year.

It wasn’t just his family who cherished their relationships with Joe. He found great pleasure in playing golf at Elks Country Club and King Kamehameha Golf Club, hanging out at the K of C, watching ND sports and taking in beautiful sunsets on Maui, where he and Mary Ann lived part-time. These experiences cultivated unique connections with a diverse group of people. Over the years, many were drawn to his friendship and appreciated his generosity and witty sense of humor.

Joe loved the Reds, and baseball in general. He was a lifetime fan of the sport and played at the collegiate level at St. Louis University. He enjoyed acts of charity, comics, crosswords and euchre with his family. However, Joe’s greatest love in life was the love for his wife of 45 years. Joe was so proud of his family and offered nothing but unconditional love and support.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:00 p.m., Saturday, May 18, at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in West Portsmouth with Reverend John Stattmiller officiating. A visitation at the church will begin at 10:30 a.m., until the time of service at noon. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Joe’s name. Melcher Hammer Funeral Home in Portsmouth is handling the arrangements.

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